Our advent calendar this year was selected by my wife, and very thoughtfully so, as it is based on a book of which she knows I am very fond, Tolkien's charming Letters from Father Christmas. The eponymous epistles describe, in the author's own understated comic prose and accomplished illustrations, the trials and triumphs of Mr. Christmas as he prepares for his annual quest while beset by, among other phenomena, accident-prone guests (principally a polar bear with very limited spatial awareness) natural disasters and ill-intentioned goblins. The book blends slapstick, gentle morality, myth, folk-tale and humour expertly, and is compiled from the letters which Tolkien contrived to arrive in his children's bedrooms each Christmas. It would make, as they almost say, an ideal gift for a child of all ages.
Branching away from books for a moment, although words are certainly involved, I've just unearthed a festive CD that we have relatively neglected, and am as I write being very pleasantly reminded of how excellent it is, and of how many points for being self-consciously esoteric in one's cultural choices it confers. It's called A Celtic Christmas, and contains many interesting noises from Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Wales and Scotland. It illustrates the cheerfully diverse ways in which Ye Ancient Celtic Types droned, danced, sang and celebrated in this sacred season. My wife and I forbid, during the month of December, the reproduction of any music which is not in some way related to Christmas. Imbued with the generosity of spirit which characterises this time of year, however, we graciously confine this prohibition to our house.
This post leaves you with a few more books (see Puns in Royal David's City) which, alas, will not grace bookshop tables and annual best-read round-ups this Christmas:
The Noel-Shaped Room
Kane and Stable
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas - David.