THE MOST MAGICAL CHRISTMAS STORIES
FOR CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN ...AND GROWN-UPS TOO
For more than 20 years J. r. r. Tolkien, author of The Lord of The rings, wrote a letter to his children in the days leading up to Christmas pretending to be the rEAL Father Christmas, in which he described in words and pictures what was happening at The North Pole. He introduces characters such as his accidentprone assistant Polar Bear, who sometimes writes (misspelled) comments in the letters, shown here in bold. Here are two . . .
Cliff House, Top of the World, Near the North Pole Monday, December 20, 926
MY DEAR BOYS,
I am more shaky than usual this year. The North Polar Bear’s fault! It was the biggest bang in the world, and the most monstrous firework there ever has been. It turned the North Pole BLaCK and shook all the stars out of place, broke the moon into four — and the man in it fell into my back garden. He ate quite a lot of my Christmas chocolates before he said he felt better and climbed back to mend it and get the stars tidy. Then I found out that the reindeer had broken loose.
They were running all over the country, breaking reins and ropes and tossing presents up in the air.
They were all packed up to start, you see — yes it only happened this morning: it was a sleighload of chocolate things, which I always send to England early. I hope yours are not badly damaged.
But isn’t the North Polar Bear silly? and he isn’t a bit sorry! Of course he did it — you remember I had to move last year because of him? The tap for turning on the Rory Bory aylis fireworks is still in the cellar of my old house. The North Polar Bear knew he must never, never touch it. I only let it off on special days like Christmas. He says he thought it was cut off since we moved.
anyway, he was nosing round the ruins this morning soon after breakfast (he hides things to eat there) and turned on all the Northern Lights for two years in one go. You have never heard or seen anything like it. I have tried to draw a picture of it; but I am too shaky to do it properly and you can’t paint fizzing light can you?
I think the Polar Bear has spoilt the picture rather — of course he can’t draw with those great fat paws —
Rude! I can — and write without shaking.
by going and putting a bit of his own about me chasing the reindeer and him laughing. He did laugh, too. So did I when I saw him trying to draw reindeer, and inking his nice white paws.
Father Christmas had to hurry away and leave me to finish. He is old and gets worried when funny things happen. You would have laughed too! I
think it is good of me laughing. It was a lovely firework. The reindeer will run quick to England this year. They are still frightened! . . . I must go and help pack. I don’t know what Father Christmas would do without me. He always forgets what a lot of packing I do for him . . . The Snow Man is addressing our envelopes this year. He is Father Christmas’s gardener — but we don’t get much but snowdrops and frost-ferns to grow here. He always writes in white, just with his finger . . . A merry Christmas to you from North Polar Bear
AND LOVE FROM FATHER CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL
Cliff House, near the North Pole Thursday, December 2 , 933
aNOTHER Christmas! and I almost thought at one time (in November) that there would not be one this year. There would be the 25th of December, of course, but nothing from your old greatgreatetc. grandfather at the North Pole.
Goblins. The worst attack we have had for centuries. They have been fearfully wild and angry ever since we took all their stolen toys off them last year and dosed them with green smoke. You remember the Red Gnomes promised to clear all of them out. There was not one to be found in any hole or cave by New Year’s Day.
But I said they would crop up again — in a century or so. They have not waited so long! They must have gathered their nasty friends from mountains all over the world, and been busy all the summer while we were at our sleepiest. This time we had very little warning.
Soon after all Saints’ Day, Polar Bear got very restless. He now says he smelt nasty smells — but as usual he did not say anything: he says he did not want to trouble me. He really is a nice old thing, and this time he absolutely saved Christmas. He took to sleeping in the kitchen with his nose towards the cellar door, opening on the main stairway down into my big stores.
One night, just about Christopher’s birthday, I woke up suddenly. There was
squeaking and spluttering in the room and a nasty smell — in my own best green and purple room that i had just had done up most beautifully.
i caught sight of a wicked little face at the window. then i really was upset, for my window is high up above the cliff, and that meant there were bat-riding goblins about — which we haven’t seen since the goblin-war in 1453, that i told you about.
i was only just quite awake, when a terrific din began far downstairs — in the store-cellars. it would take too long to describe, so i have tried to draw a picture of what i saw when i got down — after treading on a goblin on the mat.
Only ther was more like 1,000 goblins than 15.
(but you could hardly expect me to draw 1,000). Polar bear was squeezing, squashing, trampling, boxing and kicking goblins skyhigh, and roaring like a zoo, and the goblins were yelling like engine whistles. he was splendid.
Say no more — I enjoyed it immensely!
Well, it is a long story. the trouble lasted for over a fortnight, and it began to look as if i should never be able to get my sleigh out this year. the goblins had set part of the stores on fire and captured several gnomes, who sleep down there on guard, before Polar bear and some more gnomes came in — and killed 100 before i arrived.
Even when we had put the fire out and cleared the cellars and house (i can’t think what they were doing in my room, unless they were trying to set fire to my bed) the trouble went on. the ground was black with goblins under the moon when we looked out, and they had broken up my stables and gone off with the reindeer.
i had to blow my golden trumpet (which i have not done for many years) to summon all my friends. there were several battles — every night they used to attack and set fire in the stores — before we got the upper hand, and i am afraid quite a lot of my dear elves got hurt.
Fortunately we have not lost much except my best string, (gold and silver) and packing papers and holly-boxes. i am very short of these: and i have been very short of messengers. Lots of my people are still away (i hope they will come back safe) chasing the goblins out of my land, those that are left alive.
they have rescued all my reindeer. We are quite happy and settled again now, and feel much safer. it really will be centuries before we get another goblin-trouble.
thanks to Polar bear and the gnomes, there can’t be very many left at all.
And Father Christmas. I wish I could draw or had time to try — you have no idea what the old man can doo! Litening and fierworks and thunder of guns!
Polar bear certainly has been busy helping, and double help — but he has mixed up some of the girls’ things with the boys’ in his hurry. We hope we have got all sorted out — but if you hear of anyone getting a doll when they wanted an engine, you will know why.
actually Polar bear tells me i am wrong — we did lose a lot of railway stuff — goblins always go for that — and what we got back was damaged and will have to be repainted. it will be a busy summer next year.
now, a merry Christmas to you all once again. i hope you will all have a very happy time; and will find that i have taken notice of your letters and sent you what you wanted.
i don’t think my pictures are very good this year — though i took quite a time over them (at least two minutes). Polar bear says, ‘i don’t see that a lot of stars and pictures of goblins in your bedroom are so frightfully merry.’ still i hope you won’t mind. it is rather good of Polar bear kicking, really. anyway i send lots of love. Yours ever and annually
EXTRACTEd from Letters From Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien, published by Harper Collins at £12.99. © The Tolkien Estate Limited 1976. To order a copy for £10.39 (20 per cent discount) visit www.mailshop.co.uk/ books or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15. Spend £30 on books and get FREE premium delivery. Offer valid until december 17, 2018.