For SpeedyHobbit and Dawn Felagund for their birthdays, as well as three Hobbits I know!
Little Tolman Gamgee-Gardner brought his mother a beautiful bouquet for his first gift as a faunt, far lovelier and less crushed than such offerings usually were. Frodo smiled approvingly at his little brother’s present to their mum. “I guess there is no question that he’s the son of the most famous gardener in the entire Shire,” he murmured into his older sister’s ear. Elanor nodded, her heart twisting slightly.
For his father, Tolman produced a fine linen bag that Elanor had sewed for him, one that he’d filled with as many seeds of all kinds as he could find. Samwise laughed and picked him up to hold him in his arms. “How did you know the perfect thing for me?” he asked.
“But you likes pantin’ things,” the youngest of Sam and Rosie’s children told him. “Seeds is t’pant, right?”
Sam examined the contents of the bag and saw that it contained its fair share of thistle fluff as well as celery seed and the small black peppering of poppy seeds taken from the rattling pods on the Hill. “I know the perfect place to plant these,” he assured his son, and smiled as little Tolman’s face glowed with pride and pleasure.
The child had been allowed to pick a single apple for each of his brothers and sisters, although he also gave each one either a flower or a leaf; and for their special guests who’d come all of the way from the King’s own court he had equally special gifts—a green stone with an interesting shape that he presented to Legolas, and a small seedling ash tree for Gimli. When Elf and Dwarf looked questioningly at the child’s father, Sam merely shrugged—who could foretell how so small a child’s gifts might end up being bestowed, after all?
The luncheon was sumptuous, and as all were engaged in filling up the corners Gimli passed out the small gifts sent by King and Queen intended for the family as well as the byrthing, for in Gondor this day was celebrated as Ring-day, a special day to honor two other Hobbits who shared the same birthday as did Tolman. And for the byrthing himself there was a picture book prepared for him by the King’s own daughter Melian.
“Ooh!” he said. He held it out to the Dwarf, asking him, “Wead it, peese!”
So it was that Gimli found himself sitting on the bench where Frodo Baggins had once sat reading aloud to his friend Sam, little Tolman on his lap, starting with, “It did happen, one day safely long ago, that the esteemed Burglar Bilbo Baggins decided it was time for him to retire far away from the Shire, and left all his possessions (except for some things intended as gifts to his friends and relatives) to his beloved younger cousin Frodo, whom he’d adopted as his heir.”
The page held colorful paintings of Hobbits of all sizes smiling as they examined their gifts—except for three who were frowning as they each held up a pair of spoons. Uncle Merry, who was looking over Gimli’s shoulder as he read, laughed aloud at that one. But the one Hobbit in the picture whose hair was as dark as the King’s own held up a small gold ring, and although he had a smile, somehow he also looked somewhat worried. And watching over them all was the tall grey shape of the Wizard Gandalf.
And so the story unfolded of the four friends who’d left the Shire to keep it safe, taking with them the simple gold Ring that Bilbo had given to Frodo, and that Frodo in the end took on to Mordor to destroy It, accompanied ever by his friend and gardener. The story was far from complete, of course; certainly the grave injuries each of the Hobbits had suffered were rather glossed over. But there was no question that the younger fry were enthralled by the tale.
“And so it is that in Gondor and Arnor September the twenty-second is celebrated as Ring-day, and all rejoice to know that this is the birthday shared by the Ring-finder and the Ring-bearer and the youngest child of Samwise Gamgee, the beloved friend and companion of Frodo Baggins, without whose help, love, and support Frodo could not have come to the Sammath Naur to the destruction of Sauron and all of his works,” Gimli finished up, and turned the book so all could see the children of Minas Tirith dancing around the Memorial to the four Hobbits without whose aid the world would surely have fallen into darkness.
Robin, who sat beside Gimli, reached up and gently touched the painting of the statue of the Ringbearer. “That’s Uncle Frodo, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yes,” Gimli said, his voice perhaps a bit rougher than it usually was. “A fine person he was, too—among the very best anywhere. And there’s your dad, and there are your Uncle Pippin and Uncle Merry.”
But Tolman wanted to turn back to the picture of his father and Frodo climbing the sides of Mount Doom. He looked at it for a time, then asked, “Did Unca Fodo go back there, Da?”
“Go back? Oh, little Tom, I don’t think that until he agreed to go over the Sea as he ever really left there. It cost him a lot, you see. But him’s free of it now, and happy, and gladder than glad as you share his birthday, his and old Mr. Bilbo’s.” Sam’s eyes were just a bit too bright, perhaps. “Well, it’s time to put this away for now and perhaps have some of that cake as your Gammer Lily made you for your birthday.”
As they were all enjoying the cake, Frodo-lad leaned over his little brother and asked quietly, “Tommy, why did you give the tree to Uncle Gimli and the stone to Uncle Legolas?”
Tolman looked up at him with that expression Frodo had become familiar with in his younger brothers and sisters, who all seemed to look up the same way when they felt the answer to a question was far too obvious to need answering, but they would answer it at least just this once to have it over with. “Well, Unca Leg’las is a wood-Elf, right? So him has lots and lots of trees. And Unca Gimli don’t need more stones, does he?”
Frodo had to laugh as he lifted his baby brother into his arms and hugged him close. “Oh, you are so right!”
And as he laughed, he seemed to hear another silvery laugh beside him, and saw his Sam-dad turning his head to catch the eyes of his beloved friend.