Written for the 2009 Yule Fic Exchange
Title: What Yule is Really All About
Request: I would like a humorous story featuring Pippin, Merry, Frodo, and Sam pre-Quest, with Pippin being around 12 in human years. The story should be set in Whitwell on the Took farm, although portions of it can take place elsewhere if necessary. I'd like to see family members figuring heavily in the story and have it be very family-oriented. Perhaps and important lesson about what Yule means to them could be part of the plot.
What Yule is really all about
It was Yule morning and the farmhouse at Whitwell should have been awash in excitement. But a pall hung over the house for Paladin and Eglantine had come down sick earlier in the week and were still abed recovering.
"It's just not gonna seem like Yule this year", Pearl sighed softly.
"It's gonna be the worst Yule ever", Pervinca moped.
"Well, we shouldn'a be thinking of ourselves", Pimpernel scolded. "Poor Mum and Da laying there sick. We should be thinking of making a Yule for them instead".
"That's it", Pearl cried. "We'll make Yule for Mum and Da. That way, when they wake up this afternoon, everything will be done".
"But, but the goose isn'a even dead", Pippin stammered nervously. He wasn't too crazy about the evil tempered goose and didn't want anything to do with getting her ready for the roasting pan.
"You lasses start getting everything ready for her", Frodo decided.
"We'll have that old goose for you in just a minute. Won't we Sam?"
Sam swallowed and nodded and for the first time, he wished he hadn't been able to talk his gaffer into letting him spend Yule with Frodo at the Tooks this year.
Merry too had talked his parents into letting him spend Yule with Pippin and he too was beginning to regret it.
"Come on, lads. We can do it. She's just a goose", Frodo urged as they reached the pen where she was kept. He picked up a nearby axe and entered the pen.
The four hobbits surrounded the goose and Sam reached out a hand to touch her. Just then, the goose let out a loud honk and began chasing them. The three older hobbits were quick enough to get to the fence and climb over but Pippin wasn't quite so lucky and the goose caught him by the back of his braces and then wouldn't let go.
Frodo, Merry and Sam looked on in surprise and then when Pippin wailed loudly for help, they climbed back over the fence and started over to the goose, intent on rescuing the youngest hobbit.
But Sam surprised his friends, and possibly himself as well, when he shot past them and jumped onto the gooses back. The goose honked loudly and let go of
Pippin, who ran to the safety of Merry's arms. The goose let out another loud honk and then began racing about the pen with Sam riding astride her back, clinging tightly to her feathers.
"Help! Mr. Frodo, help me!" Sam shrieked as he flew past them on the back of the goose.
Pervinca had watched the whole shamefull spectacle from the front porch and now she shook her head in disgust and amusement and she pulled a slingshot and a rock from her pocket. She loaded the rock in the slingshot and then twirled the slingshot around her head a few times and then let the rock fly. Her aim was true and she dropped the goose dead in it's tracks. The goose fell over and Sam tumbled from her back. He climbed to his feet and went to stand with the other lads as they stared in shock and confusion at the dead goose. Finally, the heard the laughter coming from the porch and they looked up and saw Pervinca waiving gaily at them.
"Oi. We'll never hear the end of that now", Pippin muttered crossly. "She'll be tellin everyone that she was the one that killed the goose and not us".
"Well, there's nothing we can do about it now", Frodo sighed. "Let's take the goose in and then we can cut down the Yule tree".
"I know just the one that da was gonna cut down", Pippin said excitedly. "He showed it to me just afore he took ill. It's a big one. Why, it's almost four feet tall".
They took the goose in and dropped it off for the lasses to pluck and cook and then they left quickly before Pervinca could tell anyone what had happened.
"Let's go cut down the tree", Pippin urged.
"Lead the way", Frodo chuckled. "Since you know which tree your da wants".
Pippin proudly lead the way up a small hill and over to a four foot tall pinetree.
"Here tis", Pippin proclaimed. Then he made a grab for the axe that Frodo still held. "I'll cut it down", he offered.
"No. You'll cut your foot off", the other three hobbits told him.
Pippin pouted but he stepped back to watch.
"And anyway, it's starting to snow so we have to hurry", Merry added. And indeed it was. A heavy snowfall had started and was quickly blanketing everything around them.
Frodo, Sam and Merry took turns chopping at the tree until they finally brought it down.
"Hey look, Pip", Merry cried. "We've got it down".
When there was no imediate answer, Merry looked around in concern.
But he stopped and stared in surprise then and then he nudged Frodo, who turned and stared. Frodo then nudged Sam who turned to look.
All three of the older hobbits stared in surprise at Pippin for he lay in the snow and swept his arms and legs back and forth in a wide arc. Finally, satisfied with his efforts, Pippin stopped, rose to his feet and carefully climbed out of the image he had just made.
"Look, Mer. It's a snow hobbit picture".
"It's,,,, Uh,,,,, Great, Pip. Really great", Merry chuckled.
The two oldest hobbits chuckled as well but then Frodo gestured to the tree.
"Let's get this back to the house. It's snowing even harder now and I don't want to get snowed in up on this hill for Yule", he joked. Working together, the four hobbits pushed the tree to the edge of the hill and then pushed it over the edge. But just as it went over the edge, Pippin leapt onto the tree and rode it down the hill like a sled. He whooped and cheered as the wind whipped his hair away from his face as he sailed downward.
The three older hobbits stared in shock and alarm and then raced down the hill after Pippin and the Yule tree.
The tree sailed down the hill and then on a straight course right into a chicken coop. The debris from the chicken coop collapsed on top of Pippin and all was silent when the other hobbits reached him, with the exception of several chickens that raced around the yard, clucking and flapping their wings.
"Pip? Are you alright?" Merry asked in a shaky voice when he drew near. At first, their was no answer. But then, the debris shifted and Pippin climbed out, covered in feathers, pine needles and broken eggs.
"I'm fine", Pippin said cheerfully. "Just a bit sticky now", he added woefully as he pulled an eggshell from his hair.
They studied the tree for several minutes trying to decide how to free it from the wreckage that had once been the chicken coop.
Then, the sound of a horse's hoof beats caught their attention.
They looked up and were delighted to see Gandalf coming towards them in his fireworks cart.
"Are you lads needing a bit of help?" Gandalf asked as he pulled the wagon to a stop and lightly jumped to the ground.
"Our Yule tree is stuck in the chicken coop", Pippin explained.
"So I see", Gandalf said drily as he reached down and plucked several feathers and a broken egg from Pippin's hair. Then he went to the tree, grasped the trunk and pulled it lose from the debris.
"Run along and open the door and I shall bring the tree in for you", Gandalf offered. Merry and Sam raced ahead to open the door, leaving Frodo and Pippin to walk with Gandalf.
"What are ye doin here, Gandalf?" Pippin asked curiously as they made their way towards the house.
"I was passing through and wanted to stop and wish your parents a happy Yule", Gandalf said kindly.
Pippin winced then and the gesture did not go unnoticed by the wizard.
"Peregrin?" he asked. "What is wrong, lad?"
"It's my mum and da", Pippin mumbled sadly. "They've taken ill and we're trying ta make Yule for them".
"You lads are making Yule?" Gandalf said in surprise.
"Pearl and the other lasses are helping too", Frodo put it quickly.
They reached the house by then and Sam threw the door open wide while Merry raced off to get the stand for the tree.
He brought it back and put it down. Gandalf settled the tree in the stand while Pippin and Merry tightened the screws to hold it upright.
Then, they raced from the room and quickly brought back two boxes filled with decorations.
Pearl, Pervinca and Pimpernel came out of the kitchen then and happily greeted their guest. "The goose is cooing so we'll help ye decorat", Pimpernel offered.
So, for the next hour, they all decorated the tree and then spent another hour decorating the house.
Afterward, Pearl took some soup to her ailing parents and then went to rest with the others.
They sat and sipped tea and ate biscuits and talked about their day so far. "I canna believe ye actually killed that old goose", Pimpernel said to Frodo and the other lads.
"Well, actually it was....... Frodo started to say. But he stopped, not wanting to admit that it was Pervinca who had killed the goose.
"It was what?" Pearl asked suspiciously.
"It was grand", Pervinca said, cutting in smoothly. "Ye should ha' seen them, Pearl. All the lads were quite brave". She grinned broadly then and quickly winked at the lads.
Pippin's jaw dropped. He had just known that Pervinca would tell everyone what had really happened. But here she was covering up for them.
"Close ye're mouth, Pipsqueak or a fly will get in", Pervinca teased.
Pippin snapped his mouth shut and then grinned gratefully at his sister. Pervinca returned his grin and ducked her head bashfully.
But her happiness was short lived. For suddenly, she sniffed the air sharply. "I smell something burning", she exclaimed.
Pearl's head snapped up and she stared at her sister in horror.
"The goose", she cried. She leapt to her feet then and raced to the kitchen with the others following closely behind.
Gandalf raced to the stove, opened the oven and, using kitchen towels, he reached into the oven and pulled out the roasting pan and sat it on a nearby table.
"Quick. Get everyone out", Gandalf ordered. "It's only smoke but they all need fresh air".
Frodo began to herd the younger hobbits out but all Pearl could do was stare in horror at their ruined Yule dinner.
"Get your parents out of bed and get them outside, my dear", Gandalf said gently. "I shall open the windows and start airing the house out".
Pearl seemed to snap out of her shock and she raced to get her parents out.
Soon, the snow covered yard was filled with yammering hobbits and a soot covered wizard.
"We can't stay out in the cold like this", Pimpernel said practically.
"Mum and Da are still sick".
"Let's take them into the barn", Gandalf said kindly. "At least they'll be warm in there".
They all trooped into the barn and settled into the hay, wrapping pony blankets around themselves to keep warm.
It was then that they heard the sound of another cart approaching but this one was being pulled by ponies.
Merry rose to his feet and went and peeked out the door of the barn.
"It's my mum and da", he said excitedly. He called out to them and then waived them over to the barn when they looked in his direction.
"What ever are ye doin out here in the barn on Yule?" Saradoc asked.
"It seems that there was a slight mishap in the kitchen", Paladin explained. "We're waitin for the smoke to clear".
"I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry", Pearl choked out suddenly as she burst into tears. "I didn't mean ta ruin Yule like this".
"Ruin Yule?" Eglantine said in surprise. "What makes ye think ye've ruined Yule, lass?"
"We, we're stuck out here in the barn and we dinna even have Yule dinner. We, we tried so hard too", Pearl sobbed. "The lads killed the goose and cut down the Yule tree. We lasses tried to cook the goose for Yule dinner and we all decorated the tree and the house".
"You did all that while ye'r da and I slept?" Eglantine said in amazement.
Pearl nodded tearfully. "But we've made such a mess of it", she choked out. "We dinna even have anything ta eat now".
"Hmmm. I wouldna say that", Esmeralda Brandybuck chuckled. She nudged her husband and he rose to his feet, went outside and dug around in the back of his pony cart for a few minutes. When he came back into the barn, he had two pies and a bottle of wine.
"Here's your Yule dinner", he chuckled.
"How did ye know to come?" Paladin asked curiously.
"We didn't know", Esmeralda said with a grin. "We just didna want Yule to come and go without seeing our only lad". She shot Merry a fond look and he blushed and laughed.
"Now", Paladin said as he eyed his oldest child carefully. "What makes ye think ye've ruined Yule, lass?"
"Well, I......", Pearl's voice trailed off weakly. "I burned the goose, da. I burned Yule dinner".
"Daughter, look around ye", Paladin said sternly. "We're surrounded by family and friends. We have something to eat", he said this as he watched Pippin dig into one of Esmerelda's pies. "We're warm and safe and dry", Paladin continued. "That's all that really counts, my lass. Not some fancy supper and gifts and a tree. The most important thing is that we're all safe and together and we're surrounded by love".
Pearl sniffled softly as she thought about what her da had said.
But then, she burst out laughing.
"Pearl, dear? Are you alright?" Eglantine asked her daughter.
"Oh, my", Pearl giggled. "I just remembered. When we put the goose in the oven, we forgot to take the feet off".
They stared at her for a minute and then everyone began to laugh as they pictured the flat, rubbery feet of the goose sticking out over the side of the roasting pan.