“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”Those are the first words of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, companion to his better known epic The Lord of the Rings. Even if you’ve never read these books, I’m sure you’ll have at least heard of them. I’ve done better than that, though. I’ve been familiar with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings since I was about four. These books, along with C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia are the books I grew up on. I’ve revisited these stories so often I practically have them memorized by now.
And if that’s an exaggeration, it’s only stretching the truth a little bit. Seriously. I’ve heard them about twenty times apiece.
Of course, when I was four I obviously wasn’t reading The Lord of the Rings on my own. But that’s about when Dad started reading to us around the supper table, and the three stories he’s always read (and reread and reread!) are The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
|A little wear and tear over the years, but still in pretty decent shape.|
Despite that, at five and six David and Eli were pretending to be Frodo and Sam on the quest for Mount Doom. So there you go.
The first time Dad cracked the pages of The Hobbit and read to us about Bilbo Baggins of Bag End and his unlikely exploits as a burglar and adventurer, I don’t think any of us imagined he’d be reading that story every year from then on. That’s turned out to be the case, however, and now I’m on what I believe is my twentieth time hearing The Hobbit—my twentieth time through The Lord of the Rings isn’t too many chapters away. At least once a year Dad will send someone to grab one of the books from the bookshelf and we’ll start through the whole cycle again. Typically, that takes about three months of reading them back to back (to back to back to…well, you get the picture). But besides reading them at supper time and while we're doing KP, Dad also brings them on camping trips and reads them around the campfire.
After fourteen years of hearing these stories over and over again, you can bet there are funny situations and private jokes I can think of. Probably one of my favorites is when we try to fool the little guys (who haven’t heard the stories 15+ times the way us older ones have) into believing the end of the book is something disastrous. For instance, we’re still claiming the end of The Hobbit is that Smaug (the dragon) comes down and eats Bilbo and all the dwarves.
If you say it with enough conviction, you can still get Becca to believe it.
I also find it amusing to watch the four youngest crowd around Dad to look at the illustrations—illustrations I’ve seen about a million times.