Of Hobbits, Indirectly

The late-morning, low-hanging winter sun is streaming into my living room, and I am ensconced in my favourite chair savouring a third cup of fair trade coffee. Third cups are an indulgence reserved for days off! This day just beginning promises an oasis of relaxation, a grateful happiness – fleeting perhaps, but worth writing about for all that. Some treats in store for me – the library! Gifts from my brother, sister-in-law, kids, and kitties to open! Something special for dinner! Oh, and I am wearing my hair down, which is such a pleasure as it is rather tightly braided for work.

What I am most gratefully happy for is my family, who have come together in unexpected ways this past year. We live so far apart, but we have been able to enjoy each other’s wit and humour a few times this year, and make memorable stories. (Which are not for publication, most of them!) We are a memorable bunch.

Simple happiness is prosaic, is it not? At least in the telling – easier to write of the drama, and struggles, and large moments of life, or at least, thought by some to be more entertaining. My thoughts have wandered down this track since my pastimes over the holiday: first, to read again Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings” books, and then to watch the movie trilogy. I was saddened by some of the story changes in the movies, which perhaps reflects our cultural distrust of simple happiness. Or maybe, more accurately, our culture’s disdain of simple happiness when compared to ambition,  accomplishment, the accumulation of money and power…

This is not meant to be literary or film criticism, my imaginary friend, but rather my observations on the simple. Tolkien wrote marvellous and complex stories – which have their flaws – but I believe he celebrated the simple pleasures, simple happiness and contentment throughout his books in the evocation of the land of the Shire. The Shire is certainly emblematic of ordinary folk going about their ordinary business with contentment, and part of the over-riding theme of the books is this preservation of ordinary happiness. Of course, the movies are faced with the difficulty of compressing into a limited time space the events of the books – never the less, the movies certainly privilege the violent and horrific over the scenes and vignettes of the Shire and its people. I can’t say I enjoyed the movies much for this reason. In my readings of the books over the course of many years, always the Shire has been my beacon, my joy and delight, and my favourite place to come back to…

I do not think it makes for dramatic tellings or riveting stories, but I think my simple happiness and your simple happiness are the most important things in the world. Maybe, if we privileged and elevated the idea of simple happiness, more people would experience it, cultivate it, reverence it?

What do you think?

Santa Claus, North Pole H0H 0H0


Dear Santa,

This is an occasion, for here is my fiftieth letter to you. I have kept faith all these years, though others jeer and scorn. There are those that say you are naught but a commercial creation, or a mockery of religion, or merely a peculiar manifestation of an old myth. There are always unbelievers, or perhaps those whose hearts are too small. But every year you have brought marvellous gifts to me.

There are presents I remember, and presents forgotten,  but I can recall each and every one of fifty years worth of gifts. The gift of family – how lucky I was there! and the gift of friends, and feasting. The shining eyes, and happy smiles, and the full hearts of those who gather together and know themselves blessed. Which, of course, has nothing to do with presents, and everything to do with gifting. Gifts of time, and love, and memory.

I am alone this Christmas Eve, Santa, and so memory must serve to light the friendly Yule fire. For all that, love may travel the greatest distances, and so I have a full heart knowing myself blessed. The joy and laughter of those that I am not with, and those that have gone over there, echo through my rooms as surely as ever. I love, I am loved.

I have been a pretty good girl this year, although I am cranky if bothered before nine a.m., and I weary of those whose small lives give them delight in banal gossip and vulgar habits of indifference. So I shall ask for a gift – well, two gifts – if I am on your list of nice… I should like a little more understanding, if you please, of those that cannot seem to see beyond their own confining set. And it would be marvelous, would it not, if habits of indifference could become habits of active choosing?

Sigh. I am in desperate need of understanding. For as ever, many seek the joy and magic of Christmas in the mall, and try as I might, I cannot find it there.

Merry Christmas. I love you. There is chocolate cake for you here.