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Yule Fictions Past and Present  by Grey Wonderer

This one was posted last year, but I thought that I would bring it back out for the holidays so if it looks as if you've read it before then you probably did. Anyway, here's a little Christmas story that I wrote last year.

G.W. (reposting on 11/27/2005)

These are not my hobbits. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. I am only using them to celebrate Yule with. Happy Holidays!

G.W. 12/20/2004

Pippin is 16, Merry is 24, and Frodo is 38

"Making Merry, Merry"

“Merry, what’s the matter?” Pippin asked, coming over and sitting next to his older cousin. Merry was seated on the sofa in front of the fireplace. “You seem so sad.”

“I’m not really sad, Pip,” Merry answered smiling with effort. Pippin could tell that the smile was strictly for his benefit. He wasn’t at all convinced. Merry patted Pippin on the shoulder and said, “I’m not the best of company at the moment, Pip. Why don’t you go on and have a good time?”

“I’m fine,” Pippin said, not wanting to leave Merry. “I’ll just sit here with you until you feel better.” He made himself comfortable on the sofa and made an effort to sit still and keep quiet.

Merry sighed and resumed staring into the fireplace, slouching down a bit more on the sofa. He didn’t look over at Pippin and he didn’t say anything.

Pippin waited. Merry would tell him what was wrong as soon as he was ready. If he sat still and was patient then Merry would say something telling. Then he would know how to help. It was just a matter of waiting. He shifted a bit, decided to sit on his hands to be safe, and waited. And waited. And waited. “Merry?” he finally said, in a tiny voice.

Merry smiled, resigned. Poor Pippin simply couldn’t sit still and be quiet. It was asking too much. It was unnatural for his younger cousin. “Yes, Pip?” Merry answered, but didn’t look at him because he didn’t want Pippin to see the amusement in his eyes.

“Is there anything that I can do?” Pippin asked, putting a hand on Merry’s arm. “Can I get you something? I think that there’s some left over Yule food in the kitchen. Maybe there's even some of the roast chicken.” The thought of the roast chicken made Pippin’s mouth water. He found himself hoping that Merry wanted something. Surely a nice snack would help matters.

Poor, Pippin. He only wanted to help. It wouldn’t hurt to let him bring go and get a snack for the two of them. Merry didn’t know if a eating would help much, but roast chicken did sound like a splendid idea. “I suppose that I could eat some chicken if there is any left, which I doubt,” Merry answered. He nearly laughed at how fast his younger cousin sprang up from the sofa.

“I’ll be right back, Merry,” Pippin said, moving toward the door. He thought he could see the hint of a smile in Merry’s eyes now. Maybe he had just been hungry. “I’ll get some pudding too and maybe some bread and cheese and…”

Pippin’s voice faded as he left the room at a near-run continuing to list foods as he went. Merry snickered. That ridiculous Took was so funny sometimes. The most amusing thing about Pippin was that he never realized that he was doing anything amusing.

Merry sighed deeply and continued to stare at the fire. Another Yule over and on to another year. Merry wondered why everyone went to so much trouble and worked so hard. What was it for? Surely it wasn’t just an excuse to get the family together. He lived with much of his family and he saw the rest of them quite regularly. In fact, he saw some of them far more than he would have liked. It couldn’t be for the food, could it? They had good food all year round. His mum was an excellent cook and they always had wonderful meals. When his mum didn't do the cooking, the lasses that worked in the Brandy Hall kitchen prepared delicious food for them all. It couldn’t just be about the food.

He sighed again. Everything felt so sad once Yule was finally over and so rushed before. Why did they do it? Maybe it was for the gifts. No, someone was always having a birthday and so there were plenty of gifts all of the time. Besides, Merry didn’t really need anything. He had always had everything that he needed. He couldn’t remember getting something that he really needed for Yule that he wouldn’t have got otherwise. He didn’t suppose that it could be the gifts.

It couldn’t be the decorations because he’d heard both of his parents complain about how much trouble those were to put up and take down every year. In fact, he’d heard his father suggest that they simply leave them up year round to save time. Merry smiled at that thought. His poor father had been on a ladder in the middle of the great Hall at the time with his mum calling up instructions to him. Merry’s father didn’t like ladders any more than Merry did.

Maybe it was so the little ones could have a special day. Merry doubted this at once as the little ones always had a good time. He’d watched them this morning as they had opened their gifts laughing and eating candy and enjoying every minute. All of them had eaten far too much candy before second breakfast. They had hardly been able to sit still through first breakfast in anticipation of their gifts. None of them had sat still during lunch. It was probably all of the candy at work, that or the urge to get back to their new toys.

Merry had been able to sit still during first breakfast quite well. There had been bacon and ham and eggs and scones and freshly cooked apples in sugar and ever so many lovely things. If Pippin hadn’t been in such a hurry to get to the gifts, Merry supposed that he might have sat there enjoying his meal until it was time for the next one. Pippin had been all energy and excitement from the minute they’d sat down. He was only sixteen after all and so he was still young enough to be excited by the Yule gifts.

Merry had been dragged by his energetic little cousin into the great Hall where the gifts were before he’d had a chance to finish his meal properly. He’d had corners that still could have done with a bit more filling, but Pippin was in such a hurry. Merry smiled at the memory of it all.

Pippin had tried to seem unconcerned about his gifts this year because he didn’t want anyone to think that he was a mere child. He'd tried right up until Yule morning and then he gave up all pretense. He charged into Merry’s room first thing that morning and landed on the bed at full force. “Merry! Merry! Wake up, Merry! It’s Yule,” Pippin had said as he pulled Merry’s covers back and shook him.

Merry remembered coming awake with a laugh. He had teased Pippin about his sudden change of heart. “What happened to the lad that was all grown up and didn't care about Yule gifts? Where did he go?”

Slightly embarrassed, Pippin faltered for a split second. Then blushing to the tips of his ears he said, “Well, maybe I'm a wee bit excited. Surely you don’t want to wait any longer to open your Yule gifts do you? I mean the little ones will be waiting. It’s not fair to them, Merry.” Merry had crawled out of his bed and dressed in a hurry while Pippin bounced on the balls of his feet in anticipation.

“What are you doing in here all alone?” Frodo asked, interrupting Merry’s thoughts and sitting down on the sofa next to him.

Merry smiled at him. “I was just not in the mood for all of the singing and dancing and laughing that is going on down in the Hall and so I was hiding up here,” Merry explained. “I’m feeling a bit gloomy for some reason.”

“I have also had enough of the celebration,” Frodo admitted. “It is nice and quiet up here. Do you mind if I join you?”

“No, but be warned that it is not so quiet as you might think,” Merry said, grinning.

“Where is he?” Frodo asked, grinning back and looking about the room.

“He’s gone to the kitchens to get us a snack,” Merry said. “He’s trying to cheer me up, I’m afraid.”

Frodo grinned. “Pippin forgets that you are older now and less interested in Yule gifts and Yule games.” Frodo sighed. “I remember that feeling.”

“What feeling?” Merry asked, sure that he was missing something.

“Oh, the feeling that there is something missing that hits you at a certain age,” Frodo said. “It’s that sort of feeling where you wonder what all of the excitement is about. It has to do with suddenly being older.” Frodo smiled and looked into the fire. He did remember it. Merry was at about that age now and he suspected that his younger cousin had a feeling of being let down by the entire thing. It was hard to out-grow some of the more exciting moments of Yule.

“I suppose that’s what it might be,” Merry admitted. “It’s only that I don’t get as excited by the gifts or the candy or the games or, well, or any of it anymore. I wish I were ten again. I wish I could have a Yule like I had when I was small were every minute of it was wonderful.” He did wish that very much.

“I did too for a while, but then I began to enjoy it through you,” Frodo said, giving Merry’s hair a tug. “I would watch how happy it all made you and how excited you were and I would enjoy that.”

“If you’ve been doing that this year, then I suspect that you aren’t having a very good time,” Merry said. He looked down at his toes that were propped up on the table in front of him and sighed deeply. “I just can’t seem to completely enjoy any of it this year.”

“I noticed that,” Frodo smiled, sadly. “I suspected that this was the year that you had realized that it is a little bit different being one of the older lads than it is being one of the children. Oh, I know you aren’t of age yet, but you are old enough to have lost some of the magic of it.”

“I think that’s it,” Merry agreed. “I miss that, Frodo, don’t you?”

“I miss many things about Yule, Merry,” Frodo said, sadly. “I miss my parents. I miss Bilbo. I miss you being a little lad all covered in sticky candy and laughing as you opened your gifts, but I do love Yule all the same.”

“Why?” Merry asked.

“Because there are always little ones, Merry,” Frodo smiled. “Do you remember the first time that you led Pippin into the Great Hall to see the Yule presents beneath the big tree?”

Merry smiled. “He was three and I was eleven. When he caught sight of the tree his eyes got as round as a couple of ripe apples and his mouth fell open. He looked at it for such a long time. He was completely still for nearly a full minute!” They both laughed at this and then Merry continued. “He looked up at me and smiled. Then he tried to get to the tree and I had to hang on for dear life to keep him from going over and getting into all of it.”

“I think the best way to enjoy Yule as we grow older is to enjoy it with someone you love or through someone that you love,” Frodo said, hoping that he was helping his cousin. “The first year that it happens is always sad, but soon you find yourself trying to make things special for someone else.” Frodo smiled. “Bilbo told me the first year that he spent Yule at Brandy Hall with me after my parents had died that it was so sad that he had barely wanted to celebrate it at all, but that he had set his mind to making me smile at least once during the day and that helped him. He said that I gave him back his enjoyment of Yule.”

Merry looked over at his cousin and had a sudden urge to hug him. He wrapped his arms around him and gave him a very big hug. “Did he?” he asked into Frodo’s shoulder.

“Did he what?” Frodo asked, pulling back.

“Did Bilbo make you smile?” Merry asked.

“He did,” Frodo said. “He gave me a very old chess set that had belonged to my mother when she was a tween. Bilbo told me stories of how she had carried it around and challenged everyone to a game. He said she was very competitive and that she wanted to best everyone. Bilbo said that everyone spent months hiding from her because she was a terrible loser.” Frodo laughed. “I still have that chess set and sometimes I get it out and imagine what she must have been like as a tween. Sometimes, what I imagine reminds me a bit of you.” He messed up Merry’s hair and laughed. “You never were a very good loser either.”

Merry grinned. “So maybe I get that from the Took side and from your mum?”

“I believe that you do,” Frodo agreed.

“What do you suppose is taking Pippin so long?” Merry frowned. “He only went to the kitchen for food. They spoil him in there because they think the poor little imp needs to eat more and so they always load him up and send him on his way. He really should be back by now.”

“I don’t know,” Frodo said. “How long has he been gone?”

“Oh, he’s been gone for quite a while now,” Merry frowned. “He left about ten minutes before you arrived. It isn’t like him not to return.”

“Do you think we should go look for him?” Frodo asked, becoming concerned himself.

“I think we should,” Merry said getting up from the sofa. “I was in a bad mood before and though I don’t think I hurt his feelings, I suppose that I might have done so.”

Frodo got to his feet and the two of them started for the kitchen.


“Well, hello Master Merry, Mister Frodo,” Flora greeted them. She was the chief cook in charge of the Hall’s kitchens. “Have you come looking for a late night snack?”

“Actually, we were looking for Pippin,” Merry said. “He was supposed to be getting a snack for me but he never returned.”

“Oh, he was here earlier,” Flora said. “His sister came in and took him back to the party.”

“Which sister?” Merry asked.

“Miss Pearl,” Flora said. “I heard her tell him that he shouldn’t be botherin’ you just now. She said that you were older and that you might have plans with the older lads. He gave her an argument but she took him by an ear and hauled him out ‘o here and off to the party.” She chuckled. “That one is a right handful. He was fussin’ all the way down the hall.”

Merry and Frodo exchanged knowing looks. “Thank you, Flora,” Merry said. “Oh, could you do me a very large favor?”

“I suppose since it’s Yule and all I might have a favor or two left,” she grinned. She had always liked the Master’s son. He was a good lad.

“Could you fix a basket filled with Yule leftovers for three hungry hobbits?” Merry asked. “With roast chicken and lots of the little Yule sweet cakes and maybe some pudding?”

Frodo grinned his approval and Flora said, “I can, Mister Merry. Will you be coming by to pick it up?”

“If it isn’t too much trouble, could you have someone put it in the far parlour for me?” Merry asked looking hopeful. “Frodo and I have to go and collect Pippin.”

Flora smiled and shook her head. “I can do that for you. I knew that lass was wrong.”

“Did you?” Frodo asked smiling.

“I knew she meant well, but I knew that Mister Merry would want to spend Yule with the lad. He always does,” Flora said.

Merry leaned over and gave the old hobbit a kiss on the cheek. “Merry Yule, Flora and thank you.”

She blushed and smiled at him as he and his cousin left the kitchen. She’d make this an extra special basket. Maybe she might be able to find some of the holiday tarts put back somewhere and a bit of the honey cake.


Merry and Frodo were in the doorway to the Great Hall scanning the room.

“There,” Frodo said, pointing. “Over there near the tree.”

Merry followed his gaze and sighed. Pippin was standing next to the large Yule tree fooling with the ornaments. He was standing with his shoulders slumped over and his head down, just looking at one of the small little carved animals that decorated the very large tree. “Let’s get him,” Merry said, and started off across the room with Frodo close behind.

“And just where is my snack that is supposed to cheer me up?” Merry asked, hands on his hips.

Pippin turned, wide-eyed, the little carved rabbit in his hands. He’d turned so quickly that he’d pulled it from the tree. “Merry!”

“Don’t you Merry me, Peregrin Took,” Merry said. “Frodo and I have been sitting in the parlor waiting for you and for that lovely snack that you promised. Whatever are you doing down here?”

“Well, “ Pippin began quietly, running his fingers over the little rabbit. “Pearl said that I shouldn’t bother you. She said that you are older now and that you probably have plans for Yule with some of the older lads. She made me come here with her.”

“I had plans with you,” Merry said.

Pippin smiled up at him, eyes alight with joy. “I thought she might be right because you were so sad and you didn’t really want to talk much. I thought that you might be trying to think of a nice way to get rid of me so that you could go off with your mates.”

Merry sighed. “I thought that you’d forgotten me because I was such dull Yule company and had gone off to find better. Flora did say that you were carted off by the ear by your sister, but I still thought that you might be just as glad to be rid of my depressing company.”

“Oh, no Merry,” Pippin objected. “I wanted to try and cheer you up. You looked so sad. Even if I hadn’t been able to cheer you up, well, I would still rather spend Yule with you even if you were in a bad mood. I always like Yule with you best.”

“What about Yule with dear old, Frodo?” Frodo asked, joining them.

“I love that too,” Pippin said, smiling.

“Good, then you better come with us,” Frodo said.

“Yes, and quickly,” Merry said. “I have a surprise for you.”

“You do?” Pippin grinned.

Just then Pearl came over and looked at the three of them. “Happy Yule, Pearl,” Frodo smiled at her.

“Happy Yule, Frodo,” Pearl said, smiling back.

“Pearl, can Frodo and I have Pippin for the rest of the evening?” Merry asked. “I have been feeling a bit less than cheerful and well, Pippin always cheers me up. Frodo and I have a surprise for him.”

“Well, of course, Merry,” Pearl said. “I suspected that you had plans with your friends tonight.”

Merry grinned at her and put one arm around each of his cousins. “I do, Pearl. I have plans with my two best friends in all of Middle Earth because it wouldn’t be Yule without them.”

The End


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