Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way......
It happens towards the end of almost every year in our family. The lists. The whisperings. And then the questions start. How does he....? What about...? Is it real? Do you believe in Father Christmas? Well, I believe in all sorts of things and I especially like a good story. With great pictures. So, whatever anyone else says, this is the story about the story I believe.
The Story of Father Christmas is a scruffy 32 page picture book written byAnn & Denis Mallet. It is probably authentic vintage. The pictures are gloriously detailed and it's a fun story that tells you all about Father Christmas and what he does throughout the year.
This book was probably given to me before I started school. I'd never seen snow and the idea of it at Christmastime! That was mindblowing. The Story of Father Christmas has been well and truly thumbed for a good many years, and has been passed down the generations. Each December it comes out. No matter how young or how old we are, it comes out. Probably at the same time as mince pies, chocolates and carols.
Here's the cover. In case you're wondering, this is December 24th, Christmas eve.
The story starts at the beginning of the year, in January. This is the month when Father Christmas and the reindeer take a relaxing month off. I've always thought that this just looks like so much fun. Obviously, they're living in the northern hemisphere.
The story moves on to all the other things that he and all his friends around the world have to do throughout the year in order to be ready for that time-defying sky journey on 24th December. Some of the best pages are ones that show him training the reindeer!
And then, after that journey - and a great long sleep - Father Christmas' village gets ready for a party on Boxing Day. Here's a picture of everyone making their way by torchlight through the snowy valley. I've always wanted to be invited to that party!
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you believe, here's wishing you peace and goodwill.
1977, Sackett & Marshall, London