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January 3rd is J. R. R. Tolkien’s birthday. Yes, yes, I know that is tomorrow–but if you are to celebrate properly, you must prepare.

I say, look for a birthday tree and make certain to sit beneath it on January 3rd with The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, or another book by Tolkien. Read a chapter or two, and allow the magic of Middle-earth to brighten this everyday world for a few minutes. Laugh at Bilbo’s reluctance to embrace adventure. Smile at the antics of Pip and Merry. Wish for a friend as faithful as Sam.

I recently read an interesting post at The Writing Cooperative about Tolkien by Hunter Liguore, The Tolkien Toast, which you might enjoy.

So when tomorrow arrives, lift a glass to one of the giants of fantasy literature–for as Tolkien wrote: “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

 

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Thanks to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the link to this article on a Prehistoric Crocodile named after a JRR Tolkien creature. The reptile weighs in at over 900 pounds, so it’s no wonder the beast has been named after The Lord of the Ring’s Balrog which dwelt in the deep, dark Middle-Earth mines of Moria. 

Yes, Tolkien fan that I am, I can always find a way to celebrate one of my favorite authors!  Here’s the link.

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Today is the date of the Long-Expected Party for Bilbo Baggins. JRR Tolkien fans are shedding their shoes and preparing to party on this most auspicious of days in Tolkien Week. Lovers of the Middle-earth cycle know that this is not only the day Bilbo was born, but 78 years later, Frodo Baggins was born on September 22.

Brown Man 300 B&W For those wanting to celebrate Hobbit Day in The Shire manner, a party with friends and family in attendance should be held. A celebration with dancing, fireworks, tasty foods, and plenty of cold beverages held near a worthy tree is the best. Of course, no Birthday Tree can equal the magnificent tree of The Fellowship of The Ring – but even the tiniest sproutling will serve. And with a pinch of elven magic it, too, might grow to be a marvelous tree worthy of Treebeard’s notice.

Along with the feasting, watching one of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films is a given. Reading an excerpt from The Hobbit is another way to commemorate Bilbo, Frodo, and all other hobbits. Needless to say, both activities should be done in a hobbit-like manner: barefoot!

As for me, I shall raise a mug under the stars and salute JRR Tolkien and his son & editor, Christopher JR Tolkien. “Thanks for the stories,” I shall say. Then, return to working on my own fantasy fiction. But not before sharing a brief quote from my most favorites of books:

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag-End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton…Then Thursday, September 22nd, actually dawned. The sun got up, the clouds vanished, flags were unfurled and the fun began..My dear People, began Bilbo, rising in his place. ‘Hear! Hear! Hear!’ they shouted, and kept on repeating it in chorus, seeming reluctant to follow their own advice. Bilbo left his place and went and stood on a chair under the illuminated tree. The light of the lanterns fell on his beaming face; the golden buttons shone on his embroidered silk waistcoat…” [The Fellowship of the Ring: A Long-Expected Party].

Note: the illustration is from my book of fantasy tales, The Greener Forest. http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html

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 It’s the day after JRR Tolkien’s birthday. Yesternight, though the wind whooshed through skeletal rather than fully-leafed trees in the nearby woods, I thought of Bilbo’s birthday party tree: “There was an especially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right inside it, and stood proudly near one end… Lanterns were hung on all its branches” (LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, p26). For on the evening of January 3, 2011 at my home, Wood’s Edge, stars twinkled between the tree branches and the forest seemed alight with distant lanterns. And I thought about the debt I owed Tolkien.

I was a girl when first I read: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle…This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins…I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us” (The Hobbit, p11-12). And I quite understood the need for further explanation, since I had to often explain the various little folks I spotted while hiding beneath droopy pines and sprawling forsythias.

A few of the elderly adults with whom I shared my stories and sketches of these creatures, smiled a knowing smile and whispered, “Do what you love.” Most grown-ups discouraged such foolishness, and suggested I find more realistic and practical subject matter for my artistic endeavors. “No one will pay to read such crazy stuff” and “Medical illustration, now there’s something you can make money at” were oftentimes what I’d be told by well-meaning relations. Thus, it has taken me a lifetime to feel comfortable in my skin. And I quite admire those lucky writers and illustrators who’ve managed to embrace from the beginning their fantastical leanings.

So yester-evening as twilight crept from the shadowy places beneath the maples, I raised a mug of spiced tea to Tolkien. “Happy Birthday, to a man of great imagination who opened the doors to Middle-earth for us all,” I said.

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover From childhood, Tolkien and his fellow fantasy writers encouraged my imagination’s wanderings, and for that, I owe them a great debt. Tolkien wrote,“Not all those who wander are lost,” and finally as silver hairs twine amongst the brown, I not only understand Tolkien’s words, but have the courage to embrace my own worlds and the creatures who inhabit them.

And so I invite you, dear readers, to sample a few of those tales in my books: The Greener Forest and Owl Light. And for you in the UK, here’s the link.

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