He's Leaving Home by Celeritas

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It was a silly thing to fret over, she knew, but reading through the lines of the wedding contract had brought it to her mind again.  And it wasn’t like he was moving to another Farthing, either—just across the river, where she could pop in and see young Camilla anytime she wanted.  But still, despite all Renda’s thinking, it felt wrong.
 
Why, when she’d gotten married, she’d moved in with the Bracegirdles, and they’d all welcomed her as one of their own.  And over time, her little family—and the whole clan—had grown, until at last there was no room left in the hill and some of her cousins had to move out.
 
Too many—too many!
 
Later, after Marco’s parents and aunts and uncles had passed, they’d called the rest of the clan back, but they were too nicely settled in their new homes and couldn’t be bothered.  So they closed off half the tunnels.
 
They were going to open them up again when Arno—thirty-three already?—married.  Renda had been so happy—finally, a full smials again!—but when Marco opened the doors to the closed sections, they could both see how much work they needed.
 
“Actually,” Arno said, “I saw a nice little hill across the river, big enough for a small family at least, and I was wondering…”
 
And they said yes, of course, for Renda wanted him to be happy, and after all her other sons and their families were still snug with them.
 
But Arno was her youngest—her beloved, baby boy!
 
Why couldn’t he have stayed?

A/N: The Shire’s predilection for extended families appears to be a largely historical phenomenon—Tolkien says that there are only two large, extended-family settlements in the Shire by the late Third Age (Brandy Hall and Great Smials), and the family trees, even of working-class hobbits, show great geographic mobility among families, even (sometimes) among male descendants.  One need only look at the distances some of Bilbo’s guests had to travel for his birthday party to see how split-up, in fact, extended families actually were.
 
Yet the importance of family authority, the fixation on genealogies, and, of course, those two settlements suggest an underlying clannish past, in which married hobbits did live in the same homes as their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and umpteen cousins of various degrees of removal.  Somewhere along the way, the Shire must have switched from settlement by clan to settlement by nuclear family.  But how would that have affected hobbits in the transition generation?




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