J. R. R. Tolkien was an English high-fantasy writer, best known for his Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit. Although there have been many fantasy works published before him, Tolkien is also often considered to be the father of the fantasy genre and has had a huge impact on latter fantasy works and writers.
Letters from Father Christmas was written for Tolkien’s four children and was not planned to be published as a book. Every year from 1920 to ’44, Tolkien wrote a letter from Santa Claus to his children, telling them how it is going, often drawing pictures of the events in North Pole that featured elves, goblins, dwarves and polar bears. He also answered the kid’s letters as well as their Christmas wishes.
I think that this is just an amazing idea and I wish more parents would be creative enough to have a correspondence between Father Christmas and their children. It is beautiful way of interaction and amazing memories for all the members of the family.
It was lovely that the book didn’t just feature the texts that ware written in the Tolkien’s letters, but also had scans of letters and images, it made it so, so much better!
The content of the letters though wasn’t so amazing. The stories told in the letters didn’t really grab much of my attention and love. I liked some more than others, but in general they seemed to be just okay. Sure, the pictures brought out the best of them, but well, you just can’t pretend that the story is amazing just because it was written by Tolkien.
These letters obviously were not written and meant to be published and, if they would have been written by any other regular person (like me), they would have never made the cut. But still I appreciate them, because the idea is nice and it gave a great insight into Tolkien family’s life.
I would have liked, if the children’s letters to Santa would have also be included, because sometimes Father Christmas’ letters didn’t really make sense or didn’t explain why he needed to write so urgently to Christopher. I get that it probably would be a bit too much of a privacy breach, but I would have liked it.
What really, really got to my heart and soul (I think I will tear up as I write this) was the children growing up. I literally was so sad that one by one the children stopped writing to Father Christmas, stopped sending their letters and love. And, I don’t know, it just broke my heart, because it was so sudden, while in the letters Father Christmas, his secretary and North Polar Bear just go on as usual, the children grow up and don’t care as much anymore. That is what all parents and grandparents go through and… it broke my heart.
I gave this book only two stars (yes, I wanted to bump it up, because it was Tolkien, but I was strong and didn’t), mostly for the strong feelings it gave me at the end of each of Tolkien’s kids participation in the project and for the idea, and the wonderful drawing talent. Suddenly seems like it deserved more…
Anyway, I think that this would be a great read together with kids, because it was made for kids, not adults and they probably will find the stories amusing. But even better – I think adults should read and study the letters alone and write their own to their kids. Because that is just pure love, magic, tradition and excitement combined.
Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this book, let me know in the comments below your experience with Christmas and letters to Santa Claus! Cheerio!