A long, long time ago…
King Aragon had this crazy idea. He had heard from one of his emissaries of a land far, far away, where they celebrated a festival in which a group arrives to a new world, are welcomed and given food and grain. Then, to show their gratitude, they promptly conquered the indigenous people, crowding them into reservations, and reciprocated their generosity by giving them all kinds of diseases for which the indigenous people had no immune response.
Who couldn’t resist making a holiday out of this?
He entered his great hall and a smile crossed his face. His beautiful wife, Anwen, sat at one end of the table, with three handsome longhaired, blond elves with narrow, distinct features, and jeweled headbands, sitting erect and aloof to her right (family was a big part of this festival, Aragon had been told), and three thick-shouldered dwarves to her left. The dwarves were already drinking, though the food had not been touched. He would forgive them their transgression. It was Thanksgiving after all.
Next to his end of the table sat four, diminutive hobbits, small creatures but, Aragon knew, with big hearts. Just seeing them made him…well, thankful. Hey, he was really getting the hang of this festival!
On the other side sat Gandalf, his hair as long and white as his flowing robes, his pipe in his mouth, though recent city ordinances meant he could no longer smoke indoors. Aragon frowned. Gandalf had asked to bring a friend, but really, Gollum?
All rose when they saw the King of Middle Earth enter and he magnanimously beckoned them to sit.
“My friends,” he began and then as he glanced at Gollum, he forgot his next words. “My friends…um…thank you for joining me. Welcome to the first ever Thanksgiving dinner in Middle Earth.”
A huge cheer went up from the hired adoring crowd, packed into the corner and given generous barrels of beer and refined sugar – another discovery from the land of Thanksgiving.
“I have taken the liberty of adapting the traditions to suit us. For example, they eat a bird that has so been tampered with, it is no longer able to fly. I decided to genetically modify a dragon, which is both an excellent source of lean protein, and a sustainable dish, since it can heat itself.”
“Cooked?” Gollum said. “Yuck!”
“Is there a gluten-free option?” Elrond asked, sending just the right message of disdain at the idea of meat.
“Avocado,” Queen Anwen snapped, wondering why you had to invite relatives to this new festival.
“I use that on my skin,” Legalos said, “as you can see.” And they all glared at him.
The king knew he had to move on. “Thank you to Samwise for providing us with this beautifully colored corn. Such a decorative centerpiece.”
“Oops,” said a dwarf, his mouth full.
“Typical dwarves,” a voice said from behind a long beard.
“Excuse me?” An axe was quickly brandished.
The axe came down hard and everyone spend the next ten minutes, wiping the fat and grease from their hair, beards, and fine garments.
At least, this festival will please the dry cleaners, the queen thought.
Legalos leaned forward. “You might not have noticed but the dragon was already dead.”
Gimli slammed his tankard down, sloshing beer onto the silk tablecloth. He leaned forward brandishing a yam. “Perhaps we should check if this is soft enough to eat. We could stick it up your tight–”
“Gimli!” Gandalf shouted and the table rattled with fear. “Sit down!”
“I am sitting down!” Gimli shouted back.
“I believe,” the king said, “that those who made up this festival, would go round the table and say what we are thankful for. I will start. I am thankful for being a king and having everyone do everything I say.”
He glanced over at the hired cheerers and they raised their glasses and cheered.
“Don’t they love me,” Aragon mumbled to himself. He then turned to the hobbits. “Who will go next?”
Samwise raised his glass. “I be thankful that me old gaffer has a beautiful garden full of blooming roses. Oh an’ I’m thankful for beautiful Rosie of course.”
“I am thankful for my stunning good looks,” Legalos said, “and the hair gel that keeps me so manicured even during the battle of Helms Deep. By the way, I did kill twice as many orcs as you, Gimli.”
“How about you, Gimli?” the king asked quickly.
“Gold,” Gimli said, “and more gold,”
And off the dwarves went with their favorite song: “Gold, Gold, Gold.” But they soon got confused with the lyrics.
“What about you, Gandalf?”
“I’m thankful for Peter Jackson, who can make as many movies out of The Hobbit as he did from three thick tomes of Lord of the Rings. Very considerate of him.”
“Gold. Gold. Gold.”
“I’m just happy that I have the opportunity to host such events. Tell me dear, how many of these Thanksgivings are there each year?”
“Just one, my Evening Star.”
“Thank goodness,” she mumbled into her napkin.
Aragon felt a tug on his sleeve. “Yes Gollum?”
“Whatssss issss Gollum thankful for, you asssssk?”
“Yes, yes, I do. Please go on.”
“Thessse,” he said brandishing a long tube, wrapped in shiny red paper. “Itsss called a cracker. Pull with me pleasssse.”
Aragon indulged him and they both tugged. There was a pop and a flash. Then something shimmering gold flew into the air and Gollum caught it.
“Look. A sssuprise,” Gollum said. “A ring. My precciou–“
He put it on and promptly disappeared.
“Oh bugger,” said Frodo.
“Well,” Aragon said, signaling his aide to call up the entire army. “Let’s partake of this Thanksgiving feast before we march on Mount Doom. By the way, the next festival we will celebrate is the birth of a pacifist, who stood by his principles, got betrayed by his friends, and crucified by his rulers. They made so many wars in his name, I hear. I’m sure it will be a lot of fun. Tuck in everyone.”
Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).