An old Thanksgiving post, but a loved one:
During the later days of Middle Earth …
King Aragorn was fascinated. One of his emissaries had just returned from a land far, far away, where they celebrated a festival which commemorated a group arriving to a new world and being welcomed by the indigenous people who offered them food and grain. To show their gratitude, the explorers promptly conquered the indigenous people, crowded them into reservations, and reciprocated their generosity by giving them all kinds of diseases for which the indigenous people had no immune response, along with almost exclusive rights to gambling establishments.
Who couldn’t resist making a holiday out of this? King Aragorn marshaled his army…of caterers and executive assistants.
Two weeks later, the king entered his great hall and a smile crossed his face. His beautiful wife, Arwen, 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, Aragorn 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 who, Aragorn knew, had 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 huge mane of hair as white as his flowing robes, his long-stemmed pipe in his mouth, though recent city ordinances meant he could no longer smoke indoors. Aragorn 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, union card-carrying and adoring crowd, packed into the corner and given generous barrels of beer and non-alcoholic refined sugar (for the designated cart drivers) – 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 low imprint and 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 Arwen snapped, wondering why one was expected to invite relatives to this new festival.
“I use that on my skin,” Legolas said, “as you can all see.” As one, 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.
“Bloody dwarves,” a voice said and intended only for pointed ears.
“Excuse me?” An axe was quickly brandished.
“Splendid idea,” King Aragorn said quickly. “Perhaps you would do me the great honor of carving the dragon?”
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.
Legolas 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 shot back.
“Oh. Of course. Sorry.”
“I believe,” the king said, “that those who made up this festival, would go round the table and share what each of us 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, who raised their glasses and cheered.
“Don’t they love me,” Aragorn 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 me beautiful Rosie of course.”
“I am thankful for my stunning good looks, my modesty,” Legolas offered, “and the hair gel that keeps me so manicured even during the battle for Helms Deep. By the way, I did kill twice as many orcs as you, Gimli.”
“How about you, Gimli?” the king asked quickly as the dwarf glared across the table.
“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 managed to make as many movies out of the thin Hobbit novel as he did from three thick tomes of Lord of the Rings. Very considerate of him.”
“Gold. Gold. Gold.”
“I’m just happy to 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.
Aragorn 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.”
Aragorn indulged him and they both tugged. There was a pop and a flash. Then a single shimmering gold piece flew into the air and Gollum deftly caught it.
“Look. A sssuprise,” Gollum said. “A ring. My precciou–”
He put it on and promptly disappeared.
“Oh bugger,” said Frodo.
“Well,” Aragorn 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.”
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, and five other Wycaan Master books all released by Tourmaline Books. Calhei No More is the final novel in the series and was released in November 2016.