For as long as I can remember, my favourite festive literature has been JRR Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. Every Christmas, children write to St. Nicholas about their wishes. This book tells us what he would say if he could write back. Some years, he would have illustrated multi-layered letters with a handmade stamp. In others, he was busier, only passing the briefest snippets of the news.
Filled with pages of his messy handwriting, the book expands on the traditional stories of Santa Claus and his cosy factory in the North Pole. It gives us a glimpse of his accident-prone Christmas “helper” the North Polar Bear, his rambunctious goblins and his elves with their distinct alphabets. As a child, I was enamoured by the beautiful art that decorated its pages. Looking back at it now, I am entranced by the degree of social commentary on the times, from the Great Depression to the Second World War.
For me, The Nutcracker is a festive classic to read cosied up by the fire on Christmas Eve. It’s a tale of magic, warmth, hope and love, and we all used to think our toys came alive and went on crazy journeys when we weren’t there. I love this story because it never fails to bring the spirit of Christmas to any soul. It’s a whimsical fairy tale with mystique, adventures and far off lands. I think that’s exactly what makes it so timeless. The Nutcracker truly captures a child’s wonder at this time of year and makes me remember what it felt like to be a child waiting for Christmas. It creates an aura of dreamlike joy and perfection, and you can picture the scenes with their vibrant colours in your head. It also can’t hurt that it inspired a breath-taking ballet that everyone should experience; really, it’s just amazing.