Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Father Christmas Letters

I just finished reading The Father Christmas Letters by J. R. R. Tolkien, not that it is a very long read. It is a collection of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children as "Father Christmas." They show, even before he wrote The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, the great creativity of the man.

As an Englishman, Tolkien reiles very little on the mythos created for Santa Claus by Clement C. Moore. There are references to reindeer and there are elves, but the Father Christmas of his letters is largely his creation. Father Christmas is the son of Grandfather Yule and is approximately 2000 years old. He is assisted in his duties by the North Polar Bear and the Snow Elves. Father Christmas' workshops and storage areas are under constant threat by Goblins. Father Christmas utilises Gnomes, sworn enemies of the Goblins, to drive them away from time to time. In his letters to his children, Tolkien created an entire cast of characters at the North Pole, from the Cave Bear to Father Christmas's secretary, the elf Ilbereth. Interestingly enough, Tengwar makes an appearance in the letters in message Ilbereth writes to the children!

The Father Christmas Letters are an absolute delight to read, showing the more whimisical side of Professor Tolkien. I would recommend it to anyone, particularly those with children, who would no dobut enjoy having the letters read to them.

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