My sister gave me The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien when my children were very small.
Like many others in my generation, I was very familiar with Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and also knew that he had done the interior illustrations and maps for those books himself, but I was completely captivated by the illustrated letters Tolkien wrote in Father Christmas’ shaky script, for his children every Christmas from 1920 to 1939.
I made up my mind that the following year my own kids would begin receiving similar letters from Father Christmas, now known as Santa Claus. My letters reprised many of the Tolkien's themes and characters — including Santa’s hapless sidekick North Polar Bear, who was always causing some kind of calamity. But they also contained personal messages to my kids
Following Tolkien’s example, I was able to give my kids a real relationship with the jolly old elf. They were always just as excited about Santa’s letters as they were receiving presents on Christmas morning.