Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Traditions old and new

In 1920, J.R.R. Tolkien sent a letter to his son John from Father Christmas, and thus began a correspondence between the jolly St. Nick and the Tolkien children which would continue for over twenty years. This collection was compiled into a book entitled Letters From Father Christmas. Given to us by friends a few years ago, it has become a family favorite that we read together every Christmastime.


They are the most touching collection of letters I've ever read, especially the ones that were received during the Second World War. Here's an excerpt from the note sent in 1941:

My dearest Priscilla,

I am so glad you did not forget to write to me again this year. The number of children who keep up with me seems to be getting smaller. I expect it is because of this horrible war, and that when it is over things will improve again, and I shall be as busy as ever. But at present, so terribly many people have lost their homes or have left them; half the world seems in the wrong place...

The letters are gorgeous, full of the ancient gent's "shaky" penmanship.

Not to mention the authors' own charming illustrations. When I first read this, I was so inspired that I wished I could have done something similar for my own children, but they were too old. Sigh...

Now I'm not claiming to be half as clever as Tolkien. But I do have some lovely bottles of ink, pens, parchment paper, and a delightful, adorable, irresistable

grandchild who lives far away from her adoring granny.

My dearest girl...



Joining Emily today
Imperfect prose

32 comments:

Ostriches Look Funny said...

ACK!
I love it.
I love love love love love it.

Jodi said...

I miss you, JoAnn.

Hana - Marmota said...

Awww, Father Christmas Letters! My absolute favourite... of certain kind, at least. I got it from my Tolkienist uncle years ago, and have been in love ever since! It's actually the reason I wanted to learn Finnish! Karhu, Paksu and Valkotukka. :-)
I even bought a copy in a second-hand bookshop some time ago, with the intention of giving it to someone - anyone who comes up as a likely admirer.
But, wow, the English version seems to have the letters in their original state! We Czechs are not that lucky. I think I need to get hold of the English edition!

Hana - Marmota said...

P.S. I love the North Polar Bears. They're up among my favourite literary critters - that means both animals and beasts of more mythical/fairy-tale-ish kind. I've always been fond of "critters" in books. And N.P.B. is so adorably hapless and able-bodied at the same time. :-)

Chelsey said...

This is so sweet... I love that you were inspired to write such a lovely letter to your Grandaughter!

Cheryl said...

Oh My Goodness. I think that is the most wonderful idea I have seen for ages. The magic and wonder that she will enjoy. She is one lucky little lady to have a truly thoughtful Grandma.

Vicki Munn said...

so glad you are feeling better...
and yup, that is one lucky grandbaby!

Nancy said...

When I saw the pages I thought, "Yep, that book is definitely speaking Jodi's love language." And as soon as I saw the picture of darling, far, far, away grandbaby, I knew what was going through your mind. Have missed you terribly, horribly, excrutiatingly here. I know you've not been feeling well and its Christmas and all, but if you only knew what I IMAGINED might have happened to you. "The Highway Man Came riding, riding riding..."

Leslie said...

Yes! We've read that lovely, lovely book, too! As for your letters - let me just say I wish I was one of your grandchildren...

Are you feeling better?

Jodi said...

Nancy, my bosom friend, if only I had known, I would have sent you a lock of my [still] raven tresses hehe...

Jodi said...

Hana, my eldest daughter loves, Loves, LOVES the North Polar Bear. In fact, she refers to herself as NP this time of year. I hope you can get hold of the English version. It's been revised and has more letters that were previously unpublished.

Jodi said...

Leslie, I'll adopt you :)

Vicki, moochas smoochas

Chelsea, thank you!!!

Jodi said...

Cheryl, thank you so much for the encouragement. Magic and wonder is meant to be enjoyed.

David N. said...

I've read this book too, but I forgot about it. I think this might be a tradition to start before it's to late in our house (both reading the book and writing the letters". Thanks for the reminder. Merry Christmas!

amy said...

oh jodi, this is marvelous! the book looks amazing, your idea is wonderful. and i wish i could just pinch the cheeks of that sweet little girl. how i wish i was your grandchild! love to you.

amy in peru said...

ooh! I'm going to have a look at this book... maybe it will have to join our basket of delights. :)

amy in peru

keLi said...

Every time I come here, I'm reminded of why I come here. Loved seeing the book, and your attempt to recreate it -- putting it on my list of "cool things to do when I am not a 24-hour milk jug and trampoline."

Hope that you're feeling better, friend. :)

emily wierenga said...

i want this book! it looks amazing! i didn't know he wrote this... what a precious gift to his children. i always appreciate your insights into life, jodi. and i'm soooo glad you got the print! wahoo!! :)

monix said...

What a lovely tradition to start for your granddaughter. I'm sure she'll treasure it and appreciate what a talented, loving grandma she has.

Southern Gal said...

It's never to late to start a tradition...especially when there are grandchildren in the mix! Thank you for sharing the lovely book.

Melissa Campbell said...

What a beautiful book and a beautiful little girl. She is blessed to have you. I can only imagine how she might feel some day reading the book you made for her. I cry when I read my grandmother's recipes and the letters she wrote when I was college. They are treasures. Blessings.

Rayanne said...

Enjoyed this post! Love stuff like that,
most of all...your sweet little grand baby, so cute.

Joan said...

So smart to seize the day!! Never too late to carry on such surprise and joy especially to fair goldylocks.
The cool thing is how Tolkien "believed" it all so much that he was able to maintain such traditions with his kids even when they were older.I want to envelope myself and my family in a dose of such joy.
Thanks for the constant reminder to seize the joy, Jodi!

deb said...

!!!!

I love the internet. I love blogging.
I love people like you ....

this is fabulous. fabulous. I want the book, the tradition, the hope.

and your artistic skills..but

Tamara @ Living Palm said...

This is marvelous!! Thank you for sharing...

Graceful said...

I love this beautiful tradition you are beginning with your granddaughter. Your letter and penmanship are gorgeous -- like art itself. She will treasure these letters!

Sarah said...

Thanks friend for standing with me. The mountain is moved!

Always a joy to splash around with you friend.

Also wanted to invite you to a to a water buffalo party for India. No formal wear required, just stop by and visit

http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com/2010/12/all-i-want-for.html

Be blessed bunches,
Sarah

joanny said...

This is beautiful!

joanny

emily wierenga said...

merry christmas to you, dear jodi. love you.

Kat said...

Oh how delightful!

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing this book with us...such a delight, and I'll be keeping my eye out for it to add to my Christmas book collection. This is the first I've heard of it. It is such a marvelous idea and I'm so glad he preserved these letters and made them into a charming book so everyone can enjoy them!

Kit said...

Jodi, I've miss you the past two weeks that I've been absent from blogland. Hope your family is getting well.
The book looks so lovely, I must find that for our family.
Your sweet granddaughter! Oh she need some kissing, I can tell.
She's lucky to have you and the letters. My mom wrote some letters to my kids about the adventures of her dog, and she has a correspondence with my nephew with her taking the dog's point of view. Letters are precious, the words mean so much.
So glad to know you.

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