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- FA­THER NI­CHOLAS CHRIST­MAS England · J. R. R. Tolkien

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


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


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.

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