Thursday, December 2, 2010

from cliff house.

In your opinion, what would be the ideal temperature for Christmas Day?
            I think around 29 degrees would be perfect, because then it could snow and not melt without it being too cold.

One of my favorite Christmas books is Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien. It contains a series of letters that Tolkien wrote for his children that feature misspelled words from the Great Polar Bear, shaky handwriting from Father Christmas, and beautiful illustrations of their adventures.
Cliff House
North Pole
Wednesday Dec. 23rd 1936
My dear Children
I am sorry I cannot send you a long letter to thank you for yours, but I am sending you a picture which will explain a good deal. It is a good thing your changed lists arrived before these awful events, or I could not have done anything about it. I do hope you will like what I am bringing and will forgive any mistakes, and I hope nothing will still be wet! I am still so shaky and upset, I am getting one of my elves to write a bit more about things.
I send very much love to you all.
Father Christmas says you will want to hear some news. Polar Bear has been quite good – or had been – though he has been rather tired. So has Father Christmas; I think the Christmas business is getting rather too much for them.
So a lot of us, red and green elves, have gone to live permanently at Cliff House, and be trained in the packing business. It was Polar Bear’s idea. He also invented the number system, so that every child that Father Christmas deals with has a number and we elves learn them all by heart, and all the addresses. That saves a lot of writing.
So many children have the same name that every packet used to have the address as well. Polar Bear said: “I am going to have a record year and help Father Christmas to get so forward we can have some fun ourselves on Christmas day.”
We all worked hard, and you will be surprised to hear that every single parcel was packed and numbered by Saturday (December 19th). Then Polar Bear said “I am tired out: I am going to have a hot bath, and go to bed early!”
Well you can guess what happened. Father Christmas was taking a last look round in the English Delivery Room about 10 o’clock when water poured through the ceiling and swamped everything: it was soon 6 inches deep on the floor. Polar Bear had simply got into the bath with both taps running and gone fast asleep with one hind paw on the overflow. He had been asleep two hours when we woke him.
Father Christmas was really angry. But Polar Bear only said: “I did have a jolly dream. I dreamt I was diving off a melting iceberg and chasing seals.”
He said later when he saw he damage: “Well there is one thing: those children at Northpole Road, Oxford (he always says that) may lose some of their presents, but they will have a letter worth hearing this year. They can see a joke, even if none of you can!”
That made Father Christmas angrier, and Polar Bear said: “Well, draw a picture of it and ask them if it is funny or not.” So Father Christmas has. But he has begun to think it funny (although very annoying) himself, now we have cleared up the mess, and got the English presents repacked again. Just in time. We are all rather tired, so please excuse scrawly writing.
Yours, Ilbereth, Secretary to Father Christmas
Very sorry. Been bizy. Can’t find that alphabet. Will look after Christmas and post it. Yours, Polar Bear.

Each year at the Bennett household, a wide assortment of nativities appear around Christmastime. My mom has been collecting nativity sets for many years, and now has sets made of everything from wood to banana leaves to rolled-up magazines. Her nativities come from many different countries, including Kenya, Israel, and England. This is one of our newer ones - we found it while we were in Salzburg this summer!


  1. I would say 30°, because then it could snow and not melt without it being too cold.

  2. Whatever the temperature, it would be perfect as long as hearts are warm.

  3. Hmmm... snow on Christmas?! What's that? As long as it is below 60 and we can wear sweaters and drink cider, it would "feel like" Christmas; but sure, bring on the snow!

  4. I'll agree with 29 degrees. Definitely snow and maybe a little ice....

  5. Yes, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas~ but not TOO white, as I think we'll be driving to see our grandchildren, or they to us, and just a dusting would be perfect, at about 29 degrees, please. And soon I'll be setting up our creche or nativity scene, the main figures made by by beautiful daughter Story out of clay during a pre-Christmas visit long ago, when we lived in TN. All the other creatures , some made by me, some by my mother, some treasures from our childhood creche passed down to me, and....always, each year, a new critter joins the throng, all streaming in from all over the world , to see the baby Jesus, born in a stable.

  6. Oh, Sally...I remember well and fondly your creche! I love all your critters that join the throng to Bethlehem! It's my favorite creche in the whole world!