An Anniversary Dinner

by Vison

My goodness! It's going to be our 20th wedding anniversary next week. We must have a party.

The first thing, we must start cleaning and sprucing up. My girls are such a help to me, now, especially Elanor. Even though she's a great one for the books and is as dainty and pretty as an Elf princess, she's wonderful about the house. She was telling me the other day that in times past, even in Gondor, great ladies took a real interest in housekeeping matters. Why, the word "lady" means loaf-baker, or something. Well, if being a loaf-baker makes one a lady, I'm a lady a thousand times over!

My Sam's favorite dish is Fish and Chips, so we must have that with the dinner. My brother Tolman goes trading to the Grey Havens, and he's going to bring me some nice codfish, kept sweet and firm on ice. You need Sea fish for Fish and Chips, the trout that we catch in the mill stream just won't do. We've plenty of beer, of course, since we make it at home, and beer makes the best batter for the Fish. Sam grows "taters" as well as his dear old Dad used to, and they're perfect for the Chips. You need a nice, mealy potato. We've plenty of lard for the frying, since my Dad keeps pigs. I must see if we've enough ham and bacon, as well.

I like to start with a bit of a salad. Greens from our own garden, dressed with bacon and mushrooms. That reminds me! I must send someone out to Farmer Maggot's for the mushrooms. That's where the best ones are. I'll likely send young Frodo. I think he's sweet on Pansy Maggot, so he won't mind the journey. Besides the greens, I'll sprinkle some marigold petals over the salad. Their bright colour looks so pretty.

So, we'll begin with the salad. There's plenty of milk for the bairns, thanks to Buttercup the cow, and kegs of beer for the menfolk. Myself, I like a glass of Old Winyards with my dinner, and so, I know, does Diamond Took. We have all Mr. Frodo's lovely china and glassware and linens, of course, and my girls like to set a fine table. Elanor will be going to Gondor next year, to be one of Queen Arwen's ladies, and I want her to have things a bit refined at home, so she won't feel like a country bumpkin in the palace. Mind you, now that Sam's the Mayor, we live different than we used to. Going up in the world, my Mum says. Well, so we should. My Sam is the best gentlehobbit that ever was, even if he wasn't born one. He's changed, after all his adventures. Not that he puts on airs, far from it. But he has this Manner, now. Folks are proud to break bread with my Sam, even if they don't understand all he did.

Hams, sirloins. Plenty of carrots. Fruit. We've plenty of everything, I know, but I like to be beforehand with things....For dessert, we must have Honey Cakes. The honey is from our own bees and tastes of clover. The flour is ground right here, at Sandyman's mill. Eggs, of course, from my Mum's hens, and lots of yellow butter, thanks to Buttercup. Maybe I'll put some Cinnamon in some of the cakes. I got some, and some Ginger, just the other day, from a pedlar who called by, a fierce looking black chap with golden earrings and a striped turban. From Far Harad! Sam had a long chat with him and he wound up staying for tea, of course. Poor soul, so far from home. Still, he seems to like travelling about and he hears all the news. He and Sam went out for a pint at the Ivy Bush and were out till all hours. We managed to find room for his horse, but such a tall Man couldn't sleep in one of our short beds. He said he liked sleeping under the stars, anyway. The next day, he kept the bairns laughing for hours with his conjuring tricks, finding pennies behind their ears. I said he must have bairns of his own at home, but he looked away when I said that, and I remember that the war was awful, down in Far Harad.

I must remind Tolman to fetch me some salt, too,when he brings the fish. It's expensive and I use it sparingly, but you can't cook without it. And cheese! From my Mum's dairy. Lovely orange cheese. Mum colours it with an infusion of marigold petals. Maybe that's where I get my notions from, from my Mum. She always makes things a bit special.

Our 20th Wedding Anniversary! How I remember waiting for Sam to come back with Mr. Frodo. Waiting, and wondering, hoping they would come home safe. I used to look up at the stars,wondering if Sam could see the same ones, or if the stars were different down there in the Black Land. It was hard, not knowing. Then, when he came back! Such times! Well, we've a good life together. I mind on my Dad telling me he knew I'd be happy with Sam. Sam is a hobbit that keeps his word, no matter what, my Dad said. And he was right. Sam is the best husband any Hobbit woman could have, loving and loyal and kind.

Well, that's enough of that. The job that's never started is the job that's never finished, and I have a lot to do, to get this dinner underway. And! I must decide who to invite. We must have Peregrin and Diamond Took, of course, and Meriadoc Brandybuck. I wonder if he'll ever settle down, that Merry? Oh, it does my heart good to see them sitting with my Sam, laughing over old adventures. You'd think they'd done nothing but have a good time all the time they were gone, the way they carry on. Still, I remember Mr. Frodo, and I know it wasn't one long spree they were on. Dear Mr. Frodo. How he would have enjoyed seeing us wed for 20 years.

There's the post. A letter from Gondor? All over gold seals.. Why, my Goodness! It's from King Elessar and Queen Arwen--congratulations on your anniversary! I must find Sam, and show him....... Then, I really must find that recipe for the Honey Cakes. Where is that dratted book?