One of the many things I adore about Christmastime is letter writing and the sending and receiving of Christmas cards. There is no feeling quite equivalent to the sight of brightly coloured envelopes and the news and voices of friends and family they contain inside. It’s a wonderful time of year to reach out and let someone know you, where most of our communication occurs via a screen it is infinitely more satisfying to rake your eyes over a handwritten note, complete with ink smudges and sometimes illegible handwriting…
Of course children all over the world will have been writing their own letters to someone who will be very busy indeed at the moment – Father Christmas! The children of J.R.R. Tolkien were lucky enough to receive letters back from Saint Nick himself, which have all been compiled into a fabulous festive book, Letters from Father Christmas.
Upon reading these beautifully written and illustrated letters we are transported to Tolkien’s fantastical world of the North Pole, the naughty polar bear and the antics of elves and goblins. Father Christmas comes across as a frazzled but relentlessly optimistic chap, traits I’m sure we can all recognise in ourselves at this busy time of the year.
Tolkien’s letters are utterly absorbing and immersive, adding some extra magic and mystery for generations of children and their parents past, present and future. Even to the very last letter where Father Christmas bids his farewell, he assures the Tolkien children that he will write to them again in the future when they have children of their own. Such sentiment seems particularly fitting at Christmas where families repeat their own traditions and rituals and share songs and stories passed down from generation to generation. It is a time for familiarity and reconnecting with old friends and family, whether face to face or through the arrival of those brightly coloured envelopes on the door mat. Letters from Father Christmas is a timely reminder of the power of the (hand)written word.