Sunday, December 25, 2005

Letters from Father Christmas

Letters from Father Christmas is my favorite book by J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien wrote and illustrated these stories in the form of letters for his children from Father Christmas almost every year from the early 1920's into the 1940's. The North Polar Bear, Father Christmas's assistant, is the most compelling character of the letters, as he inevitably sets off chain-reactions due to his clumsiness. While Polar Bear is more bumbling than mischievous, he is definitely a prototype for Brad the Gorilla.

My mother intended to follow Tolkien's example by writing St. Nicholas letters for us, but due to time and energy constraints, wrote only three letters over the course of our childhood. The one I remember best was around the time Ulric wanted a fire-hat with a siren akin to the one his best friend had. St. Nicholas had full intentions of delivering one, but when one of the elves tried it on, Polar Bear thought there was a real fire and turned on all the sprinklers and hoses. After Polar Bear found out it was a false alarm, he felt bad, as many of the presents were ruined. Somehow, the firehat got so water-logged that the siren stopped working. Ulric was a bit disappointed that his plastic red fire-hat was of the quiet sort, but he made up for it by supplying siren noises of his own.

This post has been updated since its original publication.


Brad the Gorilla said...

Hah! If anything, I'm the prototype for Polar Bear. Tolkien didn't realize it, but I'm sure that many of his great ideas came from the great apes. How I'm sure of this is the interesting part... I'm still working out the details.

Melangell said...

Your mother told me she was sure it was two or three letters, and that she was determined that this year there would be a letter for Lucia, and then she broke her right wrist! You may be sure that Polar Bear was involved in THAT calamity. I will suggest that she write a belated letter.

Lone Star Ma said...

On an only vaguely related note, Lone Star Pa recently read that St. Nicholaus was not only the saint of children but also the saint of pawnbrokers and thieves. That sounds like an Alkelda the Gleeful story to me!!!

Saints and Spinners said...

Lone Star Ma,
That St. Nicholas sounds remarkably akin to the legacy of Hermes!