Saturday, December 02, 2006

Father Christmas: A Working Class Hero

Father Christmas by British author/illustrator Raymond Briggs was first published in 1973. You may recall from a previous post that Briggs also wrote and illustrated "The Snowman". In Father Christmas, the author provides readers a glimpse into the life of the man in red, introducing a more human side to the character. The story focuses less on the magical qualities associated to the big guy instead opting to show a rougher and edgier Santa in the months proceeding his eventful night of delivering toys.

Father Christmas swears, gets grumpy, and even uses the toilet. One of the highlights for me was to see him seated on said throne reaching for the toilet paper. You mean even Santa poos? Of course, as does the Queen...but I digress.

I read Father Christmas in elementary school and what I loved the most about it was the quiet of the book, especially the quiet on Christmas Eve. Perhaps it's because the illustrations are so gripping and because there are so few words to read but readers are rendered into silent participants who are observing something truly special.

Fastforward to the big day: Father Christmas first tends to his animals upon awaking, has a cuppa, uses the toilet, eats a good breakfast, grumbles about the weather and then sets off to deliver toys for every child in the world. Just a working man he is.

A real childhood gem. Watch the animated version here.

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