Three years ago, I wrote a post about how much I loved Letters from Father Christmas (alternate title: The Father Christmas Letters) by J.R.R. Tolkien. You may read the post here. In the post, I alluded to the letters my mom wrote for my brothers and me, and later, our little cousin as well. My mom recently sent the original letters in a package to Lucia. I thought you might enjoy reading them. I've edited the letters for publication.
This was the year that Ulric passionately admired his best friend's fire-hat with a battery-powered siren.
Well, my nerves are shot, and if you receive any presents this year, it will not be thanks to the Polar Bear! Everything was going along fine, and we were ahead of schedule—and the presents down in the cellar were piling up. Then that silly old P.B. found a present which was supposed to be for Ulric. It was a fire hat with a siren on top, and don’t you know that that wretched bear couldn’t resist putting on that hat and turning on the siren like a fool, and all the Red Elves who had come to live in the house and were helping out with the presents thought that goblins had snuck into the cellar and had started a fire among the presents.
So what a hullabaloo, or however you spell it! At least a hundred elves racing around with buckets of water and hatchets and trying to stomp out fires which didn’t ever exist. Polar Bear tried to quiet them down and then he was so nervous he couldn’t find the switch to turn off the siren on the hat so in desperation he finally grabbed one of the hatchets from the elves and broke the hat and its siren to pieces, and ultimately everyone quieted down and felt foolish.
Most all of the presents have dried out and are on their way to the rest of the world, but Ulric’s hat is smashed to smithereens. But I dare say it is just as well, for only look in how much trouble it landed poor old Polar Bear. You wouldn’t believe one hat could cause so much trouble.
Farewell until next Christmas, and I promise you a longer letter next year—unless Polar Bear really does it, God forbid!
Father N. Christmas
I think this was the year that our oil furnace broke, and we had to wait for days before the oil company could come out to fix it. Every time my parents called the company, the phone lines were busy. During the day, the whole family crowded into my bedroom because that was the warmest room in the house.
Last year I promised you a longer letter this year, but lo and behold, you are lucky to get a letter at all. Polar Bear has done it again!! You will never guess what he has done this time. Well, back in November we were really in good shape and the presents were stacking up in the cellars & the Red Elves were helping out again. Then, Polar Bear got a visit from his cousin Moshe Bear who is Jewish and from Brooklyn.
Moshe was talking about Channukah being so early compared to Christmas this year, and then good ol’ P.B. got the bright idea of building a giant Menorah in the hall and to keep the miracle of the lights going, Polar Bear drained the oil from our heating tank for the Menorah lamp. Well, on the 3rd day he got too much oil in the lamp. It slopped over and the fire got out of hand.
The smoke detector went off, and the Red Elves, who were still nervous from last year’s escapade with the fire hat & siren, went crazy with the hoses. So not only do we have water damage again this year, but Polar Bear didn’t turn off the spigot on the oil tank properly, & we have an oily cellar and a cold house. We have built fires, but of course we have to be careful & our work is slowed tremendously. My hands have been too cold to hold a pen. That is why the pictures are so bad. But at least the presents are finally off, tho’ some will arrive late due to cold weather all over the world except where it’s hot.
Better luck next year.
With love from Father Christmas at the North Pole.
This is the year that Brad the Gorilla showed up in our family, hence Father Christmas' allusion to "Fred's father." Fred was Ulric's first gorilla friend.
You may well be amazed at receiving a letter this year—the last I wrote was 1983! Polar Bear decided to take an MCC assignment at the South Pole and left me quite short-handed for several years. We were glad to see him back this year, though I must admit sometimes he causes me more work!
This year, Polar Bear was helping us pack presents the way he used to do, and he discovered an Atari. He didn’t know what it was, so one of the Red Elves, who came to us after Polar Bear had gone South, and had no idea of the mischief P.B. is capable of, foolishly showed him how to set it up. Well, Polar Bear found it hard at first to use the Joy Sticks, but he was determined to master it and was soon addicted. He says after 5 years of MCC he wants to be a Couch Potato. This enraged the Red Elves, who are very hard workers and really wanted to get the presents out this year. They had spent a lot of extra time this year tracking down Fred’s father for Ulric and were in NO MOOD for Couch Potatoes.
They tried various tactics such as pulling the plug and hiding the cartridges, but this put P.B. in a rage, or sometimes in the sulks, and he was either No Fun, or sometimes even almost dangerous. He went stomping through the storeroom of presents looking for the hidden cartridges, kicking and screeching and a whole huge pile came crashing down around him.
Needless to say it created quite a mess, and some things were broken. I’m sorry to say that it was mainly clothes that survived since toys break more easily, but thank goodness books are tough. Polar Bear himself was a bit roughed up, and his wrist got hurt, but the one elf was not at all sorry for old P.B. but said he had “Atari elbow.”
Well, none of us like sulks and hurt feelings here at the North Pole, especially directly before Christmas, so were we were all delighted when P.B.’s Aunt Mabel came by with cookies for all of us. She saw how uneasy things were and calmed everyone down. Even P.B. listened to her. She thought that forbidding Atari to P.B. would make things worse, but she helped him make a schedule so he could play after his work was done. He’ll outgrow it, she said. We hope so!
I’ll try to write a better letter next year—maybe P.B. will be up to his old tricks then.
Love to everyone in the family!