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Julie Moore: If I were a Hobbit

January 10, 2014 

One of my family’s holiday traditions is a full Christmas Eve beginning with brunch at somewhere tasty like Rise Biscuits & Donuts and ending with dinner at Aunt Susan’s house in Holly Springs. The in-between is tightly packed with last-minute errands, gift wrapping, house-cleaning, and a family friendly movie.

I always welcome this chance to finally sit down on the busiest day of the most wonderful time of the year. This year’s three-hour sit-fest? Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolaton of Smaug.”

I love “The Lord of the Rings” books by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read them as a teenager, a college student, and several times since. I also love Peter Jackson’s movies of them – especially the casting! Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom? Yes, please!

I had to adjust to his version of “The Hobbit,” though – especially his decision to stretch of a single book to three movies – nine hours of film. This has required a large amount of embellishment, including added backstory, new characters and elaboration that places this charming, comical tale in the context of the larger story told by “The Lord of the Rings.”

So I sat there in the movie on Christmas Eve thinking: “This is supposed to be a cute little adventure tale, but they’ve turned it into a much heavier story.” At first it bothered me, but after a while, I just settled into it … because I realized that each of us contains the capacity for great silliness and for … great greatness. And the small things we do in our littleness ripple out into the story of the world, the perpetual battle of good and evil.”

Tolkien’s hobbit creatures were literally, LITTLE. But he showed how their small actions were instrumental in the salvation story of their world. He began writing it in the 1940s, and though he swore it had nothing to do with the war, the whole thing screams “WORLD WAR II!” to me! From the isolation of the comfort-loving hobbits (English people) to the hungry foul evil of the sorcerer Sauron (Hitler) to the late-coming, day-saving eagles (Americans).

During this war people from all nations made great and small sacrifices to save their world. Some went physically into the fray while some dug victory gardens or danced at the USO. But each tiny action by people great and small won that war.

High-crisis mode

We’re not in high crisis mode right now – not where I live anyway … although maybe we should be … but that’s a discussion for another day. Nonetheless, how I behave every single day is a line in the bigger story.

Remember that book “The Help”? It was about some ladies in Jackson, Miss. – maids and their employers. And though it was a story of everyday things – cooking and cleaning and Junior League meetings and such – these women were part of the bigger story of racism and respect and civil rights. How each woman chose to behave each day either perpetuated the horror of racism, or pushed forward toward racial reconciliation.

Like those gals, I’m a wife and mother and so am not exactly called to throw the evil ring in fire or cut the head off of the Mouth of Sauron. Most of the things I do are little, but each one echoes out into the wider world.

So … I guess I should be more mindful about my every little thing … like … “What should I do with this aluminum can?” or “Will I continue to jabber away on my phone while the guy bags my groceries or will I stop and be kind?” This is kind of a “duh,” really, but it’s what I realized when I was watching “The Hobbit.”

Sometimes, too, I may actually be called to step out of the everyday – like the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. He could have just stayed in his cozy hobbit hole and smoked his pipe and ate his little supper … but as we know, he didn’t. He chose to plunge into the adventure that presented itself to him.

Just so, I also might be offered the chance to push out into the bigger story. What will I do? Will I sit in my cozy hole with my warm fire and big wheels of cheese? Or will I face the dragon?

Julie Moore, who lives in Chapel Hill, can be reached at sweetwilliamdesign@me.com.

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