For more than 20 years, J. R. R. Tolkien lent a hand with Santa’s Christmas letters.



Sometimes the missives would arrive by post, with return addresses like “Cliff House, North Pole,” or “On Sleigh.” Or they’d be left in the house (“By Elf Messenger”). The look was never the same, but the envelopes were always colorful and meticulously lettered, the notes and elaborate drawings inside even more so. This went on for more than 20 years, until the youngest of the four recipients had, well, aged out. But looking now at J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas, collected and reproduced in a beautiful centenary edition in time for the holidays, it’s hard to think that anyone could ever outgrow them.