16. The Elladan Show: 5
I've never cared much for the smell of airports. All of them smell the same- that sort of mix halfway between new carpet and old rubber with a bit of high school gymnasium thrown in. I've also never cared much for airport food, insofar as it is invariably overpriced and undergood. I think the airports must be trying to compete with cineplexes, ski resorts, and universities in the "ridiculous prices for cheap junk" department. I just bought a pack of Skittles for $2.
Pod Elrohir fell asleep about an hour ago, not long after the announcement came up that our flight was cancelled due to a freak blizzard in Rivendell that dumped two feet of snow on the runways. I was sort of hoping that the prospect of being stranded in the Grey Havens airport would incite Elrohir to some sort of mischief, but alas he just went to sleep in one of the seats in the boarding lounge and told me not to wake him until the airport authority decides what to do with us. Last I heard, the Rivendell airport had emergency teams out to clear the snow, but they estimated that our flight wouldn't be able to leave until tomorrow morning. It's beginning to look like all the passengers will be herded over to the airport Ramada for the night. I would welcome that solution. The trousers I'm wearing are starting to get uncomfortable, and I'd really like to change.
We've been sitting around waiting to do something for nearly two hours. I used some of that time to make a spreadsheet of this year's Fiommereth gift recipients. So far I have:
Subscription to Reptile World magazine
3-D puzzle of Minas Tirith
Book of designer home décor tips
Biographical DVD of Gil-galad
Paraffin foot spa
Grey Havens calendar
To be purchased: seen in Zellers flyer
To be purchased
I also have to think of something to get grandpa yet. I have no idea what he wants, but I figure it ought to be something nice, since he and grandma are coming to stay with us over the holidays for the first time ever, so this is a very special occasion. I am also wondering if I should get something to send to Legolas, other than a Fiommereth e-card. I saw a book of make-your-own ice cream recipes when I bought Erestor's DVD, so maybe that would do.
Elrohir and I are still at the airport Ramada. The situation in Rivendell has worsened. Just as the first snowfall was almost cleared, another blizzard hit and dumped another load of snow. So the flight has been delayed another day. This wouldn't be so bad if the airport authority gave us more than a $5 voucher for each meal. The only thing you can buy for $5 around here is an order of garlic toast. Elrohir and I have been eating mostly garlic toast. I was forced to use my own funds to buy a decent lunch today.
We hung about the hotel all day doing pretty much nothing. We couldn't go to the pool, since neither of us had swimmers, and the arcade games in the lobby were swarming with small children. I tried to work up Elrohir's interest in finding some sort of mischief, but he didn't seem up for that. He didn't even want to help himself to the unlocked supply closet full of shower caps and tiny shampoo bottles. Something is seriously wrong. Though he did seem to perk up a bit when we found a secret bathroom on the third floor. He got a bit of a thrill out of peeing in a toilet marked "employees only".
When we finally went back to the room, we found a note had been shoved under the door. Our flight will be leaving at ten after nine tomorrow morning, provided the weather remains stable overnight. I sincerely hope it does. Being in a hotel with Elrohir is bad enough at the best of times, but being in a hotel with a boring Elrohir is nigh unbearable.
I always forget how much I like being at home until I actually get here. I ate four servings of white chocolate pudding for supper, then spent three hours playing Mario with Elrohir and the iguana, with whom Elrohir had a joyful reunion. The cat was nowhere to be found and missed out on the action. Dad even made us nachos. This is truly the good life.
I think Elrohir is better now. On the plane this morning he confessed that he's been depressed because Nova dumped him for some surfer in her maths class. After he admitted it he immediately started to look better, and within fifteen minutes of me assuring him that she's an idiot, he was abusing the complimentary wine and fiddling with my headphones as I tried to watch the Loony Toons Fiommereth special. He kept turning my dial to a punk station. When he started squirming in his seat, saying, "My ass is cramping up hardcore!" I knew he was pretty much cured. Then I didn't feel so bad about punching him in the arm whenever he kicked me.
I accidentally slept in until two pm today. After that my entire schedule was off and I accomplished nothing. Stupid time zone.
Actually, I accomplished one thing. I made a list of stuff I want and magnetted it up to the fridge. It went like this:
*wireless optical mouse
*socks and underwear
*digital camera (no less than 4 megapixels!!!)
*Kodak High Definition film
*large bath towel
*bedside lamp with bendy neck
*travel alarm clock
*8-in-one retractable screw driver
I think toward the end you can sort of tell I was just going through the Wal-Mart flyer looking for anything half-decent to write down.
Elrohir spent the afternoon giving the iguana a bath. He was using dad's electric toothbrush to clean the iguana's claws. I wonder if dad knows.
Dad and I had an organisational meeting today. It was supposed to be a catching-up chat where I told him all about my semester at university and showed him various GHU mementos, but we realised we didn't have time for that. Grandma and grandpa will be arriving from Lothlórien in two days and the house isn't festively decorated at all, or even clean for that matter. So as soon as I'd told dad I was confident that I'd done well enough in all my classes, we moved right on to cleaning and decorating schedules.
My duties are:
*hire a Rug Doctor and shampoo all the carpets in the living room, den, and main floor corridors.
*vacuum other non-essential carpets
*prepare dad's room for grandma and grandpa
Dad's duties are:
*purchase all needed holiday food and beverages
*put up outdoor lights
*wash and vacuum car so it lives up to grandpa's strict expectations
Elrohir's duties are:
*dust living room, dining room, front entry and den
*Bee-mop all tile floors
*rearrange living room furniture to accommodate tree
*help dad with lights
*clean iguana cage
*kill maple bugs
Erestor's duties are:
*bake various holiday cookies, cakes, tarts, loaves, and pies
*wash, starch, and iron festive table linens
*polish brass and silver
*wash good supper service
And that's just for today. Tomorrow we have to do all the decorating. I'd better get started.
The house is ready for grandma and grandpa. As ready as it's going to get, in any case. All the main carpets are shampooed, even if they are still damp and smell like wet dogs. I had a bit of a trial with the Rug Doctor, since for the first ten minutes the carpets just seemed to be getting dirtier the more I shampooed them. Then I actually read the instructions and learned that I'm only supposed to pull the infernal contraption backwards over the carpet. Pushing it forward puts the entire operation in reverse and makes the dirty water come out. I think it made a brownish stain by the fireplace. I hope dad doesn't notice. Seeing as there are no overhead lights in the living room and all the lamps have only 60 watt bulbs, I don't think he should.
Dad's bedroom is organised and ready for grandma and grandpa to stay in. I put all new linens on the bed and used the green flannel duvet cover (it was the most festive one I could find), and gave them the good pillows (the ones that aren't lumpy old foam). I put all dad's random crap into boxes and shoved the boxes into the closet, and put out new candles and cinnamon-scented Fiommereth potpourri. Then I cleaned the bathroom and set out fresh towels and soaps, and made sure there was shampoo in the shower and a full toilet roll on the dispenser. Purex ultra-soft 3-ply toilet roll, I might add. That's what dad has in his biff, while the rest of the house has to make do with scratchy 1-ply recycled Safeway econo-brand! I will have words with dad about this inequity.
Decorating was pure chaos without Arwen and her natural feminine skills coordinating the effort. Dad set the tree up on Tuesday night after I shampooed the carpet, but he was nowhere to be seen yesterday when it was time to put the lights on. In fact, nobody was around. I had to do it all myself! I got the stepladder out of the garage, but it had been standing in a puddle of something that had melted off the bottom of the Mazda, so I had to put socks on its legs to keep it from mucking up the clean carpet. Then I went at the lights.
Really, I'm not sure how Arwen does it. The light strings kept getting tangled in my hair. My fingers kept getting covered in sap. Then the lights would get sticky from my fingers, and my hair would get sticky from the lights, and at one point I ended up standing on the sock-clad stepladder, leaning precariously close to the tree as I tried to disentangle the back of my head. It took me no less than four hours to put eight strings of sodding miniature lights on the stupid tree. Dad and Elrohir came in just as I was doing the very bottom branches. I plugged it all in, and instead of saying, "Oh, Elladan, what a wonderful job, it looks gorgeous!" dad said, "Did you miss a spot?" I stood back and, sure enough, there was a large gaping dark hole toward the top left side. One of the strings of lights wasn't working.
Really, I didn't care. I said we could just hang more decorations to fill in the hole, but dad wouldn't hear of it. He said, "Elladan, you know full well that the significance of this tree is to honour the beauty and light of the Two Trees of Valinor, and I will not have a Fiommereth tree that looks as if it were partially attacked and killed by Morgoth!" I had to drive to the drug store and get a new box of lights, then come back home, extract the evil unlights, and bung the new ones up on the tree. Dad plugged it all together and, lo and behold! the tree glowed a brilliant white with no more gaping dark Morgoth death spots. I'm sure Yavanna would be proud, if Valar can be bothered to care about trivial crap like dad's Fiommereth tree.
Dad had decided on the Telperion theme, so he brought out the boxes of silver decorations and we had at it. Somehow the tree decorating seemed very frantic and stressful this year. Dad dropped a glass chickadee on the parquet and I accidentally broke a glittery plastic snowflake. Ironically, Elrohir was the only one who didn't break anything, though his iguana knocked off a snowman, two stars, and a dove when it jumped from Elrohir's head and tried to climb the tree. The experience became a bit more festive when Erestor brought out some cider and star-shaped cookies, but still there was an overwhelming feeling of panic. To save time, dad even let Elrohir set up the porcelain Valar, which has never before happened in the history of this household, because everybody knows he will arrange them in a sacrilegious manner. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as I helped dad toss icicle tinsel at the tree. Oddly enough, he made a very reasonably setup.
I went over to turn Aulë so he faced a bit more toward Manwë, but Elrohir slapped my hand away and told me not to touch his Valar. Then he spent the next twenty minutes making tiny adjustments to achieve ultimate perfection. There was no goofiness to be seen. In fact, Elrohir looked downright protective of his perfect setup. I think we may have just solved the problem of him monkeying with the Valar. So long as he's the one to do the original arrangement, he seems to be very jealous and therefore less inclined to put them in naughty poses or have them all adoring a walnut. Glorfindel should be glad to know that.
We finally finished all the decoration around midnight. Never has decorating seemed so chore-like. I blame Arwen for not being here. Elrohir hung up the stockings, I put the pinecone wreath on the door and arranged the candles in the front hall, Erestor went around with the box of random things (fake holly, snowman train, tree-shaped pillows, mechanical plastic Aulë doll that drops his trousers, etc.) and put them all in their rightful places, and dad hung a sprig of mistletoe above the archway that leads into the living room. He and Erestor kissed under it for what I deemed to be longer than necessary. I don't know what was more disturbing: watching my father passionately kiss my former boyfriend, or the feeling of regret and longing that went along with the watching. I think I might have to ring Aerthos later.
I hope grandma and grandpa appreciate all the work that's gone into the preparation for their arrival.
Dad left at half nine last night to pick up grandma and grandpa from the airport. He returned two hours later with grandma, grandpa, Haldir, Orophin, Rúmil, and Ardlor. I'm not sure how they all fit into the Mazda, but I really wish I could've seen. Erestor's eyes went wide as they all trooped in from the garage. He gave dad a questioning look, and I distinctly saw dad mouth, 'Don't ask.' I followed dad into the kitchen and as soon as we were out of earshot, I did ask.
As far as I can gather, this is the story. Ardlor has a role in a forthcoming B-grade cop movie that begins shooting here January 1st. He and Rúmil decided that, since they would be moving at the end of the month anyway, they would come early and have a holiday vacation. When they learned that grandma and grandpa were coming at the same time, they organised to be on the same flight. Haldir, meanwhile, had been contracted by grandpa to housesit and water the fig trees for the duration of his and grandma's time away. However, grandma and grandpa's vacation plans started Haldir thinking along the lines of going away himself, and when he learned of Rúmil and Ardlor's vacation, that clinched it. Finally, Orophin, who didn't want to stay in Lothlorien by himself over the holidays, decided to come along too. At one point they all had hotel reservations, but grandma convinced them on the plane that "Elrond has lots of room." Thus they are staying here. Until New Years'.
Erestor came into the kitchen after a few minutes and started saying stuff like "Fiommereth is a time for gatherings of family and friends, after all," but dad apparently didn't buy that hooey. He thinned his lips and started robotically preparing coffee for everyone. I saw him surreptitiously sneak two ounces of rum into his own mug. I did the same to mine as soon as he wasn't looking.
We have just enough room to fit everyone without resorting to unnecessary doubling-up or mattresses on the floor. Grandma and grandpa are in dad's room, dad is in Arwen's room, Haldir is in Aragorn's room, Orophin is in the main guest room, Rúmil is in the room we usually give to Legolas, and Ardlor is in Glorfindel's room. Erestor, Elrohir and I are all in our own rooms. It all works out pretty well, and should be fine so long as no more guests show up.
Now the main challenge is finding stuff for everybody to do. Dad took grandma and grandpa on a tour around town today, and I went shopping with Rúmil and Ardlor while Elrohir stayed home with the iguana on his head and played Nintendo with Orophin and Haldir searched for the missing cat. We're all going to go to Lindir's annual karaoke and ping-pong party on Monday night, but other than that there are no plans. I sense that lots of video-watching and tranquil walks through the snow are imminent.
It occurred to me today that I my life is a situation comedy. The sort that sticks a whole bunch of unlikely characters together for some reason and counts on the pure ludicrosity of the setup for laughs. In The Elladan Show (airing daily on the A Channel!), world leaders are brought together by fate and placed in the same household for the holiday season. Zaniness ensues.
It all started this morning, and the pilot episode went something like this:
EXT. ELLADAN'S HOUSE, MORNING
ELLADAN stands on the stoop, wearing a puffy ski parka reminiscent of the
Michelin Man. As he struggles valiantly to shovel a stubborn patch of ice
off the steps, a large red van pulls into the drive. Out steps THRANDUIL,
King of Mirkwood. [Studio audience whistles and yells "WOOOO!"]
Well, this is the place!
Elladan looks dumbfounded. [Studio audience laughs.] Thranduil swaggers
up to the front stoop.
Thranduil continues swaggering all the way up the stairs and barges right
on into the house. [Studio audience laughs.]
Erm, what are you doing here?
We've come to visit!
"WE"?!!! [Studio audience laughs.]
Wide shot of Thranduil's van. Out steps his wife, mother, and five
daughters. [Studio audience howls with laughter.] Finally, LEGOLAS
steps out of the van and poses long enough to receive a standing ovation
from the studio audience. [Audience yells "WOOOO!" and young girls
worldwide scream in a frenzy of adolescent lust.]
At this point I panicked, dropped the shovel, and ran for dad. He was on his hands and knees in the living room with a box of Kleenex, trying desperately to kill all the maple bugs before grandpa saw them. Words couldn't adequately describe the situation, so I silently pulled him by the arm until we got to the front door. I wish I would've had a camera, though, since the look on his face when he saw Thranduil's family was priceless.
Thranduil said, "We though it might be nice to spend the holidays here in Rivendell with you. Hope you don't mind." Dad said, "Actually, Thranduil, now really isn't a very convenient..." But Thranduil cut him off by going into some explanation of how workmen are removing the asbestos from his Halls and he can't very well stay there now, can he? Also, he heard that Celeborn and Galadriel were in town, and was there some sort of Elven leadership conference going on for which he should be present? Dad's defences eventually broke down and he agreed to let Thranduil stay. He put me in charge of organising a new bedroom allotment plan, and went off muttering something about aspirin and having to buy a bigger turkey to feed all these new guests. He spent the next two hours in maple-bug-killing relaxation therapy. It seemed to work pretty well, and as a bonus he would up with a whole ice-cream pail full of wadded Kleenex and squished maple bugs.
The new bedroom plan is as follows: grandma and grandpa in dad's room, Thranduil and his wife in Arwen's room, Haldir and Orophin in Aragorn's room, two of Thranduil's daughters in my room, Legolas in Elrohir's room, Thranduil's mother and the youngest daughter in the guest room, the other two daughters in the room we usually give Legolas, Rúmil and Ardlor in Glorfindel's room, and Elrohir and I on the hide-a-bed in the den (as usual). Dad and Erestor will share Erestor's room, but for the sake of decency they are going to tell grandpa that dad is sleeping in some imaginary spare room in the basement.
I honestly don't know what we're going to do with all these people. No matter where I go in the house, there's always somebody underfoot or getting into trouble, and arguments constantly arise. Thranduil's mother has already commandeered the kitchen and kicked Erestor out because she's convinced he doesn't know how to make gingerbread properly.
Dad is depressed. Elrohir thinks it is because of the crappy weather (who knew that without the power of Vilya Rivendell would average a blizzard per week?), but I am confident it is because of Thranduil's unreasonable demands. Dad had to run down to the Shop Rite at seven this morning to fetch two litres of club soda because Thranduil doesn't like regular water. For somebody who lives in a traditionalist Silvan commune, he sure is accustomed to modern luxuries.
In order to cheer up dad, Elrohir spent the day attempting to forge new Rings of Power to control the snowstorms and compensate for Vilya's inefficiency. Unfortunately his forging skills are a bit on the shoddy side. After several hours at the kitchen table he presented dad with the Ring of Lettuce, the Ring of Saran Wrap, the Ring of Lego, and the Ring of Mayonnaise. The Ring of Mayonnaise, he explained, can only be worn for a few minutes at a time every few hours. The rest of the time it has to be kept in the freezer. Dad was speechless.
Grandpa did not hold well with this Ring-forging business. He went and sat in Erestor's car with a Crypto-Quip book and stayed there all afternoon until Antiques Road Show came on. I think he still has hard feelings toward Celebrimbor, probably over golf. I know he still holds a grudge against Círdan and the entire Grey Havens area because of an incident in which he was unable to find Eastern Hockey League scores in any paper or on any radio station while on a business trip to Lindon back at the beginning of the Second Age. Grandma didn't care about the Rings, but that might only be because she's nearly as depressed as dad. When she imagined Fiommereth in Rivendell I think she anticipated perusing exciting new high street shops for fancy lingerie and designer shoes, not playing Trivial Pursuit with Thranduil's wife and mother. Thranduil himself went out cross country skiing at noon, and nobody's seen him since. I hope he didn't get lost in the blizzard. Not so much because I really care about his well-being, but because I'm sure his mysterious disappearance would make dad (and me by association) look bad on the news.
A card from Glorfindel came in today's post. Inside was a collection of photos of him, Aralindë, and the baby. I put it on the buffet with the other cards, which came from Arwen and Aragorn, Bilbo, Frodo, Lindir, Faramir, Eómer, Círdan, EnMax, Telus, Global, Access, the dentist, and about ten people I don't know but who dad claims are close friends.
I also got my first Fiommereth present today: a free dairy recipe calendar from the milkman. I claim it as my own because I had to haul in the stupid milk from the step when I got the mail, and I was the one who found it wedged between two things of half and half and a carton of eggnog. I looked over the recipes while I was eating breakfast, and they appear to be nothing more than regular recipes altered somewhat to include more dairy products than anyone needs. I mean really, who puts whipping cream in meatloaf anyway?! The milk company is up to something, trying to get us to buy more and more, and I don't think I like it. I was secretly pleased when Elrohir, outraged that I got the free calendar instead of him, staged an anti-milk demonstration by putting orange juice on his Shreddies instead of 1%.
I spent the rest of the morning watching music videos on cable with Rúmil and Ardlor. They looked terminally bored. I don't think a quiet family Fiommereth in Rivendell quite compares to their usual glamorous downtown Lórien lifestyle. I'm positive I heard Rúmil mutter "quaint" in a distinctly derogatory fashion. More than once. Thranduil came and joined us around noon, but Rúmil and Ardlor left straight away. They have been fundamentally opposed to Thranduil on a political level ever since they found out that homosexuality is still illegal in Mirkwood. They found out two days ago. It's been a bit tense. Actually, being around Thranduil is always tense. He radiates impatience and is far too alert for his own good. He's always doing things, and seems physically unable to sit and relax and mindlessly watch television like a normal person. It wasn't five minutes before he asked me to go cross country skiing with him. I was about to say no thanks, but just then I heard dad hollering for "volunteers" to shovel the driveway. I told Thranduil I'd have to borrow some of his ski gear.
We eventually assembled an outfit consisting of Elrohir's snowboard kit, a knit ski hat that dad got free from the insurance place, authentic hand-made Avarin beaded fur mittens that were purchased impulsively at a craft sale several years ago, a scarf that appeared never to have been used, and skis, boots, and poles that belonged to either Legolas or his mother (Thranduil was unsure which). I also put on some sunglasses for good measure, to ensure that nobody would recognise me in this getup. Then we took off across the back yard. I probably should have told Thranduil that I haven't been cross country skiing since the time the elementary school made my class go as a phys ed field trip. I think he was able to guess, though. I fell over three times before we'd even left the garden.
The next two hours were torturous, with Thranduil gliding gracefully through the trees and me slogging along behind, perpetually out of breath. I'm not sure what idiot thought that strapping two long pieces of wood to one's feet and shuffling over a flat field could ever be considered a good time. I got snow up my parka, down my trousers, in my hair, in my mittens, and in my boots. I got my skis stuck under fallen logs and in between rocks. It was -20 but I was so hot from all the exercise that I had to unzip my parka. Possibly worst of all, Thranduil had led me so far down the riverbank into the middle of Prince's Park that I had no idea where the house was, or even in which direction I should go to get home. When Thranduil sat down on a rock to take a swig from his wine skin, I asked him how much further. He asked, "Are you tired?" I managed to weakly nod yes. He said, "Well, we're only about five kilometres from the house. We can head straight back." Five kilometres! I almost collapsed from exhaustion at the thought of it. But somehow I managed to shuffle my way home, step by painful step. I saw a rabbit and three deer, but it didn't cheer me up much.
What did cheer me up, though, was shuffling into the yard to the welcome sight of Elrohir, Legolas and Orophin still shovelling out the driveway. I may have aching muscles and blistered feet, and a scratch across my forehead from sliding face-first into a Douglas Fir, but at least I didn't have to spend the afternoon doing anything useful.
I hope I can walk well enough to go to Lindir's party tonight. I spent forty minutes sitting in the hot bath, but it still hurts to use any of the muscles in my arms and legs.
The party didn't go very well. Dad got drunk to try to drown his sorrows, and Thranduil got drunk because I guess he just really likes drinking. Then the two of them kept at each other, arguing over absolutely everything. They started off with arguments about reasonably important things like political and religious views, but quickly degraded into arguments over whether orange juice with pulp is superior to orange juice without pulp, and if it's better to just unplug the coffee maker instead of using the ON/OFF switch. Lindir politely suggested I take them home after only an hour, as they were embarrassing themselves and ruining the festive mood. I wholeheartedly agreed with him. I took them home, made coffee for Thranduil, and left him sitting at the kitchen table reading the television guide, then put dad straight to bed (being careful to avoid being seen by grandpa on the way to Erestor's room). As I tucked him in, he informed me of another wonderful piece of news. Círdan is coming.
He had telephoned Círdan yesterday before the party to complain about Thranduil, but instead of sympathy he got thinly-veiled hints as Círdan went on about how he never gets to go anywhere any more, and hasn't seen Rivendell in such a long time, and always spends Fiommereth by himself, and would dearly love to be invited to a big friends and family gathering sometime... Dad figures he must've been on the internet at the time of the telephone conversation, since within ten minutes of being invited in the spirit of "how bad can one more be?" Círdan announced that he could get a flight for 2 pm on the 23rd. He will be here in a few hours. I have had to make up a new bedroom plan. Círdan will go in Elrohir's room, and Legolas will share the den with Elrohir and me. Urgh. It's not that I really dislike Legolas, it's just that he has tendencies to do things that get on my nerves. Like singing along with commercial jingles on television. I don't know what compels him to sing, "Ho ho ho, Green Giant!" every time the frozen sprouts with cheese ad comes on.
This is sort of turning into an Elven leaders convention after all. Thranduil will be pleased, at least. And maybe he can con Círdan into going cross country skiing with him. I had to stoop to volunteering to do laundry this morning just to get out of another ski adventure. Thranduil took Grandma instead, who was too hung over from Lindir's party to be able to properly refuse. Rumour has it she drank a 26 of rye and then passed out on Lindir's pink velour divan, but Elrohir told me this rumour so there's a good chance he was exaggerating. From the look of Grandma's hair and makeup when she got in last night, I'd say she only drank a bottle of wine and then maybe sat on the divan with her eyes closed for a few minutes while everyone else was putting their shoes on to leave.
FIVE HOURS AND SEVEN MINUES LATER (according to my watch anyway):
Círdan arrived right on schedule. He took a taxi from the airport and walked through the front door just as dad was running around killing last-minute errant maple bugs. I really wish we could figure out where those dumb things are coming from. Círdan was carrying two enormous suitcases, which seemed to me to be a bit much since he's only going to be here for five days. But then he immediately unpacked one of the suitcases, and it was entirely full of presents, which he handed to Elrohir with instructions to place them under the tree. Elrohir spent all afternoon organising the presents, first by size, then by colour, then by addressee. By the time he had finished the tree looked like it had exploded. I don't think I've ever seen that many presents in my life. Not even on television.
Of course the sight of all the presents made me remember that, in the frenzy of having all these guests, I've completely forgotten to finish off my Fiommereth shopping! I still need to get a present for Grandpa, and I suppose courtesy dictates that I really should get something for everyone else too. I'll have to go early tomorrow and head to Dominion Centre downtown, which will naturally be packed with other idiots just like me who neglected to do all their holiday purchasing at a reasonable time.
December 24th (Fiommerethin)
Got very little sleep last night, and as a result, I have a terrible headache. Elrohir and Legolas were up for hours playing a new card game that Elrohir invented. The game involves getting punched in the stomach whenever you lose a turn. I stopped playing after two rounds.
I made myself get up at eight on the hope that if I got downtown early enough, the shops wouldn't be busy yet. Apparently every other last-minute shopper in the city had the same idea. The underground car park on 4th Ave was full, the ImPark lot on Centre was full, all five levels of the multi-park on 2nd were full, and the only free street spot I saw was a 15-minute loading zone. Eventually I had to give up and park in the bridge lot across the river, a ten minute walk from home. It would have been faster to just walk downtown in the first place.
First I went to Dollar Street and filled a basket with cheap colourful candles for Thranduil's wife and mother, and picked up some 2-for-1 wrapping paper tubes. The CD that was playing in HMV as I walked past was pretty good, so I got that for Rúmil. Ardlor got a small black and white framed photograph of some trees that looked like it would fit in with his and Rúmil's living room décor. I got a bead jewellery kit and friendship bracelet kit for Thranduil's younger daughters at Learning Is Fun, and fancy hair thingies and nail polish for the older three at one of those girl accessory shops. Haldir and Orophin both got slippers, since I couldn't find anything better for them. I decided on dog pyjama bottoms for Legolas, since for some reason yesterday he was going on about how much he likes dogs. Finally, I bought Círdan one of those Tourism Rivendell calendars that has pictures of all the stuff nobody who actually lives here ever goes to see.
Despite the crowds, I was done by noon. I hauled all my bags back through down town, over the bridge, and to the car. It took me five minutes to try to turn from the car park onto Memorial Drive for all the traffic, and then once I did turn, I was cut off by some jerk in an SUV. I wanted to give him the finger, but I couldn't because I was wearing mittens. I pulled into the garage just as Elrohir and Erestor came up the driveway. Their car was just as full as mine, but they looked much less frazzled. Out of morbid curiosity, I asked where they had parked. Erestor said the Zoo Park 'n' Ride, whence they had taken the LRT directly to Dominion Centre. I could've kicked myself for not thinking of that.
I hauled all the bags inside and, after dodging three of Thranduil's children running trans-house races in oversized cross country ski boots, went into the living room. Grandpa was sitting at the fireplace burning everything remotely confidential, from old Master Card statements and telephone bills to receipts from the petrol station that showed the last four numbers of his debit card. He had hauled an entire bag of such things because he and grandma don't have a fireplace at home. At that moment, watching him sit there tossing handfuls of small papers into the flame, it suddenly hit me that I had completely forgotten to get him a present, even though he was my reason for going downtown in the first place! I felt a bit sick and had to sit down on the sofa, a cold sweat beginning to form on my forehead. Grandpa looked up with a frown and said, "Is something wrong?" I managed to choke out "no" before shakily standing up again and heading back to the garage. I had to take all the presents, too, since I knew that if I left them at home somebody would peek. I drove straight to the Park 'n' Ride and took the train downtown.
The only up side to the entire experience is that I then knew exactly what to get grandpa. I went to Supreme Basics and bought him a paper shredder.
At quarter after two I was back at home in time to get everything wrapped. Everyone but me seemed to be relaxing in the living room around a roaring fire, drinking hot cider and eating various Fiommereth treats baked by Erestor and Thranduil's mum. They didn't even have the courtesy to save any of the jam tarts or shortbread stars until I was done wrapping! By the time I joined them the only things left were gingersnaps, pecan squares, and those awful coconut balls that Erestor always makes even though nobody likes them. I took a few gingersnaps and let them soak in my cider until they were soggy. I like them best that way. Then Elrohir helped me find places for the new presents under the tree. By "under" I really mean "in the general vicinity of". Nothing has been able to fit under that tree in days.
As soon as it was dark out, just around supper time, Thranduil stood up and said, "Well, looks like it's about time!" His children cheered, but everybody else just sort of looked at him until dad had the sense to ask, "Time for what?" Thranduil gave him a very sympathetic look, as if he were very unfortunate indeed for not knowing, and began to explain the old North Sindarin tradition of going door to door on Fiommerethin, singing for food and brandy. Grandma looked at grandpa, but he just sort of shrugged in confusion. Then dad asked, "Exactly who is supposed to go door to door?" Thranduil said it was mostly children, old people, the poor, and out-of-town travellers, and everybody else was supposed to stay home to hand out food and drinks to the singers. Dad looked a bit relieved and said, "Well, looks like none of us is eligible to go, then," but Thranduil said, "Nonsense! Elladan and Elrohir still live with you; they can be called children. Celeborn and Galadriel and Círdan are all quite old, aren't they?" At that grandma made a face and whispered, "I would have preferred to be classified as an out-of-town traveller, really." I whispered back, "Me too."
The only ones Thranduil deemed ineligible to go out singing with him were dad and Erestor. They had to stay at home with cookies on hand in case any singers came by. The rest of us were more or less forced to get bundled up (to face the blizzard that was just starting) and trudge down the road to the nearest house. Thranduil rang the bell, and as soon as the door opened we all started singing "Deck the Halls". Some less enthusiastically than others. As expected, the poor home owners had no idea what in the world was going on. In fact, we were yelled at for disturbing their family gathering. The next house was a bit better; the owners at least thanked us for our creative rendition of "The Holly and the Ivy" before firmly bolting the door. Nobody was home at the third house, and the fourth house was full of students who had no extra food to give away. Two of them ended up joining us for lack of anything better to do, though. The fifth house was a repeat of the first, but still Thranduil refused to get discouraged. We started on the next block and got two polite thank-yous, two not-homes, one refusal to answer the door even though we could very clearly see a variety of inhabitants through the living room window, one religious fanatic who asked us if we had truly accepted the everlasting love of Elbereth, and three dumbfounded stares. The two students went home, but Thranduil still refused to get discouraged.
It wasn't until the end of the third block that we finally came to the home of somebody who appreciated Thranduil's insane tradition. She taught North Sindarin history at the University of Rivendell, and became rather excited when she realised what we were (very pathetically) trying to do. She invited us in to chat while her husband, who taught psychology, fixed a tray of cocoa and fruit cake. She was most impressed at meeting Thranduil, and asked him at least a hundred questions about holiday traditions in Mirkwood. Then she questioned grandpa and Círdan for a bit, but their answers pertaining to Doriath and the Falas were of little interest to her, so she turned back to Thranduil. Grandma tried to hide her annoyance at not being the centre of attention, but she didn't do a very good job.
Just after eight, a bunch of people started showing up at the professor's house. She explained that she was having a party for all her career-oriented colleagues who, like her and her husband, disliked children and had no interest in seeing family over the holidays. This made me think of poor lonely dad and Erestor, who were left at home all by themselves on Fiommerethin with no family or friends or party to spread the holiday cheer. I must be getting overly sentimental, because my eyes started to tear up and a lump formed in my throat at the thought of this. I quickly excused myself from the party and ran all the way home, bursting into the living room to the heart-wrenching sight of dad and Erestor snuggling happily in the mingling glow of the fireplace and the lit-up tree, taking turns sipping from a bottle of champagne and looking very content to spend a quiet evening by themselves. They had changed into their pyjamas. Erestor had taken all the plaits out of dads hair and was sort of playing with it. Dad looked up at me and said, "Oh, you're back already?" He sounded more disappointed than lonely.
I mumbled something about everyone else still being at a party so he didn't have to worry, then grabbed the nearest magazine and sat down far away from them. The magazine was grandma's Flare. I didn't give a toss. An article about what high heels and handbags are most fashionable will always be preferable to watching dad and Erestor be intimate.
This has officially been the worst Fiommereth Ever, no contest. It is entirely Arwen's fault, too, for marrying Aragorn and renewing the friendship of Elves and Men and screwing up our routine. I was much happier when Elves didn't have to care about world politics or concern themselves with any of this forthcoming Fourth Age fading and/or Time of Men nonsense! I liked being stuck in the rut of apathetic predictability, when nobody talked about moving to Valinor, Mirkwood and Rivendell happily ignored each other, and everyone in Lothlórien had that secretive we'll-never-tell-you-what-goes-on-in-our-forest-so-just-leave-us-alone vibe going on. Tomorrow had better be fantastically wonderful to make up for all the crap I've had to deal with so far!
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.