Getting to Know You
The elves living near the hobbits' dwelling were quite puzzled at first, for even with their sharp ears they had heard no movement outside their homes. Yet in the morning they found that small bags had been hung on their posts or door latches, filled with unusual but wonderful-smelling confections. The baked goods had been fashioned in various sizes and shapes of people or trees, and decorated in bright colors. Because the anonymous gifts arrived only a few moon cycles after the arrival of the Ring-bearers, the elves hurried to the Istar, Gandalf, to consult with him.
“Ah, these are rare treats, my friends!” Gandalf informed them, peering into the bags and parcels and inhaling appreciatively. “They are gingerbread-hobbits and sugar-elves, and the trees are those most beloved by the hobbits. Frodo and Bilbo are wishing you a joyous Yule, a festival that falls about this time in Middle-earth, when their folk give thanks for the year’s bounty, and share sweets and small gifts with their neighbors.”
“What are we to give in return?” the elves queried anxiously.
“The hobbits expect nothing, I assure you,” Gandalf told them. “It is their joy to give of what they have, and I am certain it gives them comfort to continue a tradition that reminds them of their home. Merely convey your thanks and wish them a blessed Yule when you see them...” He paused, then smiled knowingly. “Wait, there is one thing more that they might like.”
That evening, Frodo and Bilbo sat together on the small bench outside their dwelling, as they did each night after supper. They sipped eggnog and talked quietly, enjoying the bright stars as they appeared and the perfume of night-blooming flowers. After awhile, Bilbo laid his head on Frodo’s shoulder, and Frodo stroked his white curls very gently.
As the night grew darker, they saw with surprise and great joy that their neighbors had set candles in every window of their homes, and were lighting them one by one. The multitude of soft, flickering lights shone with warmth and a peaceful glow. And the hobbits' attention was caught by strings of colored jewels that had been hung amidst the branches of a noble fir tree, interlaced into the shape of a star. As the brilliance from Elbereth's stars hit each faceted surface, the gems sparkled brightly.
“It's lovely here, isn’t it?” Bilbo asked happily. “I did so hope it would be.”
“It is lovely,” Frodo agreed softly, and he smiled. “Good neighbors make for a good home, as Aunt Dora would say. Happy Yule, Bilbo."
“Happy Yule, dear boy,” Bilbo said with a sigh of contentment.
** END **
Getting to Know You