Father Christmas, by Raymond Briggs


My young friend brought this award-winning children’s book along on a recent overnight at my house. I hadn’t heard of it before and, reading it aloud at bedtime, was thoroughly enchanted.

In the format of a graphic novel, the story follows Father Christmas through his most demanding day: December 24. There are no elven worker bees, no Rudolph, no North Pole. Instead we have a seemingly ordinary man waking from a dream of sunning himself on a beach to find that it’s Christmas Eve. No wonder he’s rather grumpy!

We follow him through his morning chores: putting the kettle on, collecting eggs, bathing. The detail in the pictures is quite incredible; I had to hold back my friend’s quick fingers to give me time to glory in them. The houses Father Christmas visits with his sleigh and two reindeer are quite extraordinary: from a camper to an apartment to a glorious manor house and even, well, I don’t want to give it away.

Just an ordinary man doing a job of work. He grumbles a bit, but finally is able to go home and cook his Christmas dinner and pudding. Under all that grumbling is a sweetheart who takes good care of his reindeer and even pulls out presents for his cat and dog.

I love this book. Most of us want to work at jobs that are meaningful, that in some way benefit others. We can’t all dispense a sleigh-full of presents, but we can give a few toys to a charity like Toys for Tots or donate time or money to a food bank or kitchen. We can find a way in even the most menial jobs (and I’ve held some of the lowliest) to make someone else’s burden a little lighter. We can pay forward the gifts that we’ve been given. Then we can go home and put our feet up, maybe with a cat on our lap or a dog keeping our feet warm, and know that we’ve made a difference.

Happy holidays to all.

2 thoughts on “Father Christmas, by Raymond Briggs

  1. margaret mullins says:

    Dear Barbara,
    Father Christmas has been THE favorite Christmas book in our house since our oldest daughter was born. Some years ago, but probably before internet, when I couldn’t find it locally, I bought a bunch of them from Canada and now my kids are reading it to their kids, who also chuckle all the way through. This may be the tradition which outlasts all others in our family.

    Merry, merry,

  2. Hayley says:

    Lovely! He’s reading it right now before bedtime.

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