Santa Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Christmas Letters to His Kids Are Exactly What You Need Today

Between 1920 and 1943, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote and illustrated letters in the voice of Father Christmas to be delivered to his children every Christmas Eve. The amount of sheer joy, magic, and warmth this brings to my cold, warped heart is voluminous. As far as loving gestures go, this one’s epic in scale. Now fans can see these letters firsthand at Oxford’s Bodleian library between June 1 and October 28, 2018.


Tolkien letter

Image Via The Guardian


After his three-year-old son John asked Tolkien where Father Christmas lived, Tolkien embarked on the twenty-three year tradition of writing letters in Daddy Xmas’ voice. The letters tell stories of life in the North Pole, and sagas involving Santa’s sidekick: Polar Bear. That’s the sidekick’s full name: Polar Bear. Allegedly, according to Father Christmas, Polar Bear accidentally flipped on the Northern Lights in 1926. Oopsie!


As the kids grew older, Tolkien’s Christmas tales became more adult too. In 1932, for example, Father Christmas told the Tolkien children about thieving goblins who attempted to steal all of the presents. It’s not the only time Tolkien wrote about conniving goblins.


Tolkien letter

Image Via The Guardian


The letters are very interesting to Tolkien fans because the later ones were written while he was working on The Hobbit and the early Lord of the Rings books. The letters not only give fans a glimpse into how Tolkien’s mind worked, but also the warm family dynamic he maintained with his children.


The curator of the upcoming exhibit, and Bodleian Tolkien archivist, Catherine McIlwaine, said of the letters:


The other reason I find the letters so touching is there couldn’t be a clearer demonstration of how important his family was to him. He was orphaned from the age of 12, when his mother died, and then he spent years boarded out in lodging houses in Birmingham. He actually met his wife, Edith, as a fellow boarder: the family home they made together, and their children, meant everything.


For fans of Tolkien and the holiday spirit, a 2018 trip to Oxford is in order. Oh, and if you can’t make it to Oxford, you can check out the letters in Letters From Father Christmas…it just won’t be the same.


Feature Image Via The Guardian