Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Lovers' Advent Calendar: The Feast of St. Nicholas

Today, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, what could be a better book to read with your family than J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters From Father Christmas?  Tolkien (yes -- that Tolkien) delivered these letters to his children on behalf of Father Christmas, every year from 1920 through 1943.
The hand-written letters came with North Pole stamps, and illustrations to accompany Father Christmas's descriptions of life at the North Pole.  In his letters, Father Christmas mentions other inhabitants of the North Pole, like the North Polar Bear (in 1926, Father Christmas complains that the Bear has eaten "quite a lot of my Christmas chocolates"), as well as helper elves and wicked goblins.  The intricate detail of the illustrations is just lovely, and the commentaries on the happenings of the world have a bittersweet flavor that is quite moving:  in 1939, for example, Father Christmas notes, "things are very difficult this year owing to this horrible war. Many of my messengers have never come back."  

This book makes me sigh with happiness, no lie. What a treasure these letters must have been to Tolkien's children!

HERE is a link to a slideshow of several of the illustrations.  Enjoy!

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