Hobbits are the quintessential homebodies. So it is no wonder that Professor Tolkien’s literary masterpiece includes one of the few examples in speculative fiction of a lovingly detailed home. Bag End is so finely realized that most of us would love to live there. That makes it a rarity. Homes in speculative fiction are usually jumping off points, or places characters are pleased to leave, or destroyed in order to compel the characters to leave. Homes are seldom longed for, or if they are, we take the character’s word for it, instead of vicariously experiencing that longing ourselves as we do with the Baggins’ cozy hole in the ground.
There’s a festive air in Bag End. Bilbo has broken out a couple bottles of the Old Winyard and is mulling them in a pot hung over the fire. Gandalf is carefully igniting tiny candles placed on branches of the tiny fir tree in the parlor, applying the tip of his staff and muttering a spell to spark each one. Sam is wiring together a wreath, while Frodo attempts to keep Merry and Pippin from opening all the presents.
In a harborside tavern, Conan, with great mirth, employs the heavy bone of a joint of beef to club an insolent potboy who is imposing bawdy lyrics on the tunes of old Cimmerian carols. This he does without spilling a drop from his tankard or the saucy tavern wench from his knee.