Fatherhood, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Christmas Traditions

This year, my wife and I are making a real effort to wait until Christmas Day to open our Christmas presents. This is made easier by the fact that we are not doing presents for each other this year. Really, we are just waiting to give our daughters their gifts. Not that they know this or care, being two years old and five months old.

But anyway, my wife and I have always had trouble waiting to give each other presents. On the years that we get closest to Christmas Day, it is because one (or both) of us didn’t actually finish Christmas shopping until days (or hours) before the 25th. And so when friends of ours gave us some gifts recently and told us that we could wait to open them until Christmas if we wanted to, we waited about five minutes after they left the house to start ripping off the wrapping paper. After all, it isn’t like they told us to wait, and we aren’t doing gifts for each other this year. Stop judging us.

The gifts were all wonderful, but the one that I specifically want to mention is a book that I didn’t even know existed. J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, also wrote a bunch of letters to his children purporting to be Santa Claus. The book is titled “Letters from Father Christmas” and is full of insight into a side of Tolkien that, like the book itself, I did not know existed. Every year, Tolkien would write a letter to each of his kids, accompanied by illustrations, and tell them what was happening at the North Pole. After a few years, he started bringing elves and goblins and bears into the mix as well, which is good, because it wouldn’t feel like it was from Tolkien if they weren’t there.

Anyway, it’s given me some ideas for my family Christmas traditions (better ones than not being patient for Christmas presents, anyway). And I hope it does you too. In the comments, I would love to hear about some of your Christmas traditions!

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4 responses to “Fatherhood, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Christmas Traditions

  1. Scott always reads ‘The Night Before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve from the same Little Golden Book he did when the kids were babies! They still remind him and insist, even though they’re 14 and 18! On Christmas morning, he reads the Christmas story from the Bible. My favorite version is in the gospel of Luke!

  2. I must admit, I am intrigued with that book, Will have to find a copy!
    Our traditions have become what they are because of our focus of what we want out of Christmas Day. So if our focus was to be a celebration of Christ’s Birth, we had to figure out how to remove everything that distracted from it. How? Well we have decided to pick a random day throughout the month of December as our present day. We treat it like the imminent return of Christ. It could be any day but if one of the children asks, well it’s not that day. May seem cruel to some but it has made anticipation in December “ginormous”. That leaves Christmas Day totally void of anything having to do with what our cultural has made Christmas out to be. Christmas Day for us is simple. We relax, we enjoy each others company, we read the Christmas story as a whole which we have done with an advent calendar for last 24 days, We have a nice sit down dinner that everyone helps prepare, and we even make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday! Our Christmas day is one of the most anticipated days of the year for me because of the focus of the day is the most intense of any day the whole year as a family. It is a day that truly represents Peace on Earth. There are other little things that tie into this because of our family size and things that we do and don’t do but I won’t bore you with those.

  3. Tim, thank you for sharing your traditions! I LOVE the idea of taking the focus off from gifts on the day that we’re celebrating Christ’s birth! We used to make a cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus! I’d forgotten that, as we’ve gotten away from that tradition now that the kids are older! Perhaps I’ll make one this year! Thanks for reminding me! Blessings to you and yours as we worship Jesus, born as a helpless baby in a cold, stinky animal stall, CHOOSING to be brought low for us. That never ceases to amaze me…!

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