6. Home for the Holidays: 2
To protest against the unseasonable proliferation of Fiommereth décor, I have decided not to leave the television room until December 1st. Elrohir has promised to lend support by bringing me food and snacks. He also offered to play Nintendo for my entertainment. I told him it would make me happier if he started looking again for a flat for us, since living at home is quite unbearable compared to our previous independence.
My bedroom is still occupied by Frodo Baggins, but even if it weren't I'd want to leave. Dad's façade of hospitality is getting on my nerves. He's wonderful and generous and kind to all the guests, and then makes me stay on the hide-a-bed with Elrohir for a month! Which I really wouldn't mind, if only Elrohir would spend less time on the Nintendo late at night and more time sleeping.
I have amended my vow of not-leaving to include provisions for going to the biff. I am allowed to leave the den only to visit the toilet and to brush my teeth. Elrohir insists on being my armed escort and chaperone. I almost pointed out that my imprisonment is self-imposed, but he had already armed himself with an oblong sofa cushion and the Duck Hunt gun, so I let him have his fun.
He spoke into the DVD remote all the way to the bathroom, saying "Khhhk, transfer command, this is block leader MG-886 escorting prisoner Elladan to lavatory unit 3-b, do you copy?" Then he stepped six inches to the left and said, "Khhhk, roger block leader, this is transfer command, commence dialogue." "Khhhk, in position for security crossover- activate Code E switch to transfer setup and lockdown." "Khhhk, roger that, block leader. Security transfer success- you're free to go."
After much elaborate undoing of invisible locks, I was given permission to pee for no more than 20 seconds. The return trip protocol was much the same, only Arwen stood and watched. Elrohir ignored her well enough until she said, "You two are such idiots," at which time Elrohir yelled, "Security breach!" and attacked her with the cushion.
Her screams of outrage brought Legolas valiantly running to her rescue. Legolas started off earnestly throttling Elrohir for "being mean to girls", but within seconds the throttling turned into tickling and other generic roughhousing accompanied by squeals of laughter. Arwen, disgusted, stormed away (probably to complain to dad). I escorted myself back to the den with no further incident.
I have further amended my vow to include provisions for showering. Elrohir still insisted on being my chaperone, and kept peeking behind the shower curtain to make sure I wasn't about to off myself with Arwen's Lady Gillette.
Much to my dismay, Legolas has also joined in the "game". Mostly he just sits on the sofa watching Elrohir play Mario and taking up space and oxygen. I might have to have him "promoted" to door guard duty later tonight. Or send him for food. Elrohir's idea of supper, that is Tater Tots and root beer, is somewhat inadequate.
Elrohir is nowhere to be seen. Even Legolas has disappeared. I have seen neither of them since noon, when Elrohir excitedly burst in to announce that dad and Arwen and Aragorn were putting up the tree, and did I want to help?
They are doing this deliberately to get me to renounce my vow! But no hokey family traditions will get me to leave this room, no way! They can decorate their dumb tree all by their dumb selves. So I gave Elrohir a Look and said no, I was planning on staying in the den as I would have no part in their shamefully premature holiday preparations. He slapped his forehead and said, "Oh, right, sorry!" and then took off again.
I hope he comes back soon. I found an old pack of the Balathin peanuts behind the telly, but it was sadly lacking in any real food value. I am still hungry.
Elrohir finally came back about midnight, carrying a jar of olives. He held them up excitedly and said, "Look, your favourite food!" I really wanted to be nice about it, because I know he means well, but at that point I couldn't hold back the frustration any longer. I slightly less than calmly pointed out that I really hate olives. Really. I don't think he quite understands just how deep my hatred of olives goes. They are, in fact his favourite food, not mine, not by a long shot.
He said, "Ohhhhhh... yeah, I remember now!" Then he sat down, turned on the Nintendo, and went ahead eating every single stupid olive in that jar! And not quickly either. No, he takes each olive one at a time, looks at it all over, and then sucks out the pimiento. Then he tries to stick his tongue in the pimiento hole, though of course it never fits. After that, he either tries to put the olive on his finger, or else bites off the closed end and whistles through it. Alternately, he will "oooo" though it. Often while looking at me. Finally, he eats it, but only while taking very small bites and examining the olive after every bite. Sometimes he will sing his olive song, which is pretty much "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" with the words changed to "Olive, olive, olive, olive..."
After he'd gone through five olives in this manner, I couldn't take it any more and yelled, "Elrohir!" He looked at me, frowning, and said, "Dude, what's your deal?" I told him I was hungry. He offered me an olive. It was all I could do to keep myself from screaming and dumping the jar of olives over his stupid olive-filled head. So I forced myself to be calm and lie down and just go to sleep in hope that tomorrow he'll remember that it's his job to feed me. Only I couldn't sleep, because I'm sure he turned up the volume on the television so that all I could hear was the boing boing boing of Mario jumping. And his singing to the olives got more elaborate with passing time.
To compensate, I stole all the blankets, lay diagonally across the mattress, and pretended to be deeply asleep by the time he finished his olives and got into bed. He shook me (rather violently) eight times before giving up and sleeping curled up by my shoulder like a pet. Served him right.
He was gone by the time I woke up this morning and I, not wanting to count on him for food, wisely stood in the den doorway and waited to flag down the first person I saw. That happened to be Glorfindel. I begged him to make me some real food: food that is hot and doesn't come straight out of a tin or a freezer bag. He came back about an hour and a half later carrying two plates of stuff I've never seen before. Some sort of mushy beany glop, what looked like meatballs but turned out to be eggplant balls, flat bread, orange-coloured fried potatoes and rice, and deep fried filo-pastryish wads drizzled in reddish sauce.
Warily, I asked what it was, and he said "Vanyarin food- try it, it's good." As if to convince me, he ate one of the pastries from his plate. I tried a pastry, and nearly fainted when my tongue threatened to fuse itself to the roof of my mouth due to the sheer heat of the drizzly sauce. I choked, forced myself to swallow, and immediately reached for my water bottle. He said, "They're a bit spicy." A bit! Out of everything on that plate, the bread was the only thing that didn't have me breathing smoke. And all the while, Glorfindel sat calmly eating his bean glop as if it were no more dangerous than chocolate pudding!
By this time, though, I was so hungry I didn't care. I ate everything, alternating bites with large mouthfuls of water. I suppose it might even have been good, had my tongue not been completely annihilated and had I been able to taste any of it. And it might have been a more enjoyably experience had Glorfindel not insisted that forks are a Noldorin invention that are generally shunned in Valmar. At least they were when he lived there, way back in the day. It was somewhat tricky holding the plate up to my chin and manoeuvring the bean glop toward my mouth with a piece of bread. Though he at least brought napkins to clean up the mess afterward.
Glorfindel, for all the years I can remember, has never once cooked supper for us. Now I know why. And I will keep this experience in mind for next time, when I will ask Erestor to bring me supper. He at least is thankfully bland and would bring me something edible, like a hot dog and chips.
I ceremoniously left the den this morning and stepped into the living room, only to see that Fiommereth has exploded all over everything. The tree was in its traditional space in the corner, though all bunged up with noticeably more tinsel and lights than usual. Dad seems to have opted for the Laurelin theme this year- gold foil from top to bottom. The mantle was covered in holly and pine boughs wrapped with ribbon. Fake spray snow adorned every window. More candles than one could shake a stick at were situated about the room. Overall, it looked like a picture from the sappy Fiommereth edition of Homemaker Magazine.
So I see that my strike did nothing to hold back the tide of kitsch. If anything, it actually encouraged them because I was out of the way and unable to physically stop Arwen from Blu-Tacking glittery stars to the walls! In disappointment, I went back to the den. At least nobody has decorated in there yet. It will be my sanctuary until I'm ready to face the cheesiness of the season.
Today Arwen wrote all of her Fiommereth cards, right on schedule. Every year, she takes the time to write a card to absolutely everyone she can think of, including mum, Glorfindel, Erestor, Lindir, Aragorn, Legolas, Legolas' parents, Círdan, Galdor, Gildor, grandma, grandpa, Haldir, Rúmil, Orphin, Bilbo, Gandalf, Saruman (luckily she remembered he's evil this year before she mailed his), Radagast, Halbarad, everyone else whose name she can remember, and, this year, all the Hobbits, Dwarves, and Men currently staying with us.
Now, this might seem like a kind and wonderfully sweet thing to do, but she's not doing it to be nice. Nor is she doing it to spread Fiommereth cheer. The only reason she writes all those cards is in hope that she'll get a card in return or, better yet, a gift. On Wednesday, when all of her within-Rivendell cards will be delivered (she mails all of them even though it would surely be easier to give them out by hand), I know she will make a big show of dancing and singing her way to the fridge, where she'll magnet up her wish list. Then, just as everyone is admiring the cards and thinking what a lovely and special girl Arwen is, they will see that she has her dear blessed little heart set on a Sugar Jones CD. And lo, they will get it for her.
Then I also know that her card should be arriving in Lórien just as grandma and grandpa are doing their shopping. So Arwen will get a big parcel full of scented bath things and chocolates and jewellery, while Elrohir and I get Wal-Mart gift cards. It never fails. But of course nobody save Elrohir and I can see that this is her clever little ploy. Feh!
I was complaining to Elrohir about Arwen's cards today, and he smugly told me he upstaged everyone by sending grandma and grandpa a super deluxe ultra glittery card that plays "Jingle Bells" when you open it, and he sent it Express Post so it'll arrive before Arwen's.
That rat! Now he's going to get the best present, Arwen's going to get something almost as nice, and I'm going to be stuck with the crummy Wal-Mart gift card! This calls for drastic measures. I'm going shopping.
Later: I've had grandma and grandpa's gifts professionally wrapped at the mall and sent by courier. Ha! That'll show Arwen and Elrohir. Really, I don't know what comes over those two this time of year. All they seem to care about is what sort of gifts they get and how many, completely disregarding the fact that the spirit of Fiommereth is all about giving and being with family and friends. How greedy can you get!
Arwen's cards arrived in the post today, right on schedule. All through the halls, I could hear Elves saying what a thoughtful girl she is, Men singing the praises of her grace and beauty, Hobbits declaring their undying adoration, and Dwarves proclaiming her to be the one shining hope for all Elvenkind. It makes me want to kick something.
Sure enough, around supper time she came prancing into the kitchen, singing some frilly song about peace and love and joy joy joy! and magneted her wish list (printed in bubbly letters on pink paper and decorated with stickers of flowers and happy faces) to the fridge over top of Elrohir's drawings of Orcs falling into lava. Within the hour I saw Glorfindel standing and looking at it thoughtfully, holding her stupid card in his hand.
This is completely unfair, and is making the rest of us (namely me) look bad! I ought to petition dad to make a law against solicitous Fiommereth card sendage.
Aragorn and Arwen have broken up again. He's upset over having received a card that says only, "Happy holidays and all the best in the New Year! Love, Arwen" She claims she "accidentally" must have sent his somewhat more personal card to Legolas. This evolved into a huge row about commitment, trust, respect, and Aragorn's personal hygiene and smoking habits. It ended with Aragorn storming off to get wasted, and Arwen pouting to Legolas that Aragorn is "such a meanie" sometimes. He held her hand and said things that sounded supportive but really made no sense whatsoever upon analysis.
Dad stared at them from across the room with thin lips and narrow eyes. I suspect he might be jealous. And nervous, since Arwen is younger and prettier than he is.
Arwen and Legolas are officially in love. They spent the entire day holding hands and giggling to each other and generally making everybody roll their eyes. Aragorn is disgusted. Elrohir thinks it's funny. Erestor doesn't care. Dad pretends he doesn't care, but really is devastated. Boromir looks disappointed. And Glorfindel is upset, since many years ago Arwen turned him down by saying that she's not interested in Elves, which is now obviously a lie. As for me, I think they belong together. All Arwen wants in a boyfriend is someone who will agree with everything she says, and since Legolas has the intellectual independence of a newt, I don't think that should be a problem.
Elrohir got a job. This is why I've not seen him around the house for the past few days, I guess. Without warning, he up and decided that he ought to be employed, so he now works for the East Beleriand Trading Company (est. F.A. 109), generally referred to as "The Bel" by most shoppers. He gets to wear a shirt and tie and classy engraved metal nametag, and stand at the door greeting customers and directing them to the various store departments. So really, his duties consist of knowing where the underthings and toy departments are and telling people how to get there.
Dad looked very proud indeed when Elrohir announced this, and said something about how nice it was for Elrohir to be taking initiative and being responsible and all that bosh. He was looking at me while he said it. I pretended I didn't notice. The only reason dad thinks this is so great is because Elrohir's been a disappointment for so long that he's lowered everyone's expectations! He could get hired as the chip chef at McDonald's and still dad would congratulate him. If I were to get a job greeting people at the Bel, dad would look concerned and tell me I could do better. I just know it!
Maybe I should make a point of being stupid for the next few years so that when I do decide to apply myself, everyone will be amazed.
I tried to do all my shopping today, but I was still too frustrated with everyone to be inspired to buy them nice gifts. So I bought a Roxy Music piano book for Erestor and that was all. I might come back and get him another piano book later. Right now all he knows how to play is "Aladdin Sane" and it gets a bit tedious.
When I got home, Glorfindel was on one about the porcelain Valar setup that Elrohir always monkeys with. Elrohir claims he didn't touch it, but we all know nobody else ever rearranges the figurines so that they're all standing around adoring a walnut while Tulkas has his hand on Aulë's bum. Glorfindel lectured again on how "Fiommerel" is a sacred religious holiday to honour the birth of Eonwë and that if Elrohir insisted on disrespecting his beliefs he was going to take his precious porcelain Valar (that he so kindly bought for us because our old cardboard nativity set was substandard, don't you forget) and set them up in a locked glass case away from unholy heathen hands.
Elrohir promised to behave. But as soon as Glorfindel left the room, I clearly saw him put Tulkas' hand back on Aulë's bum and replace the infant Eonwë with another walnut.
Glorfindel has locked the porcelain Valar inside the glass teacup cabinet, displacing twelve valuable old teacups that once belonged to Turgon. This has caused some tension between Glorfindel and dad, as dad clearly has greater respect for Turgon's old dishes than for the Valar. Unfortunately the stress of the season seems to have gotten to Glorfindel and has made him go a bit psycho, and dad is afraid to say anything more than, "You know, those teacups are very old and valuable... are you sure they're safe on top of the stereo?"
After an hour of watching them fuss over placement issues, I felt like my head was full of sand. So I gladly left the house and went shopping. I passed Elrohir at the door to the Bel, completely oblivious to the uproar he has caused at home. He was handing out 5% discount coupons to everyone who entered the store. I took one and used it to buy Glorfindel a locking glass case for his beloved porcelain Valar.
Someone, I suspect dad, left the glass teacup cabinet open last night and Manwë has disappeared. Glorfindel is distraught, sitting at the kitchen table alternately raging that he's going to give somebody some serious grief and sobbing that everybody's against him because he's the only person who still recognises the true meaning of the holiday beyond the commercial monstrosity it's become. Dad sent Erestor in to try to calm him down, but he's still wary of Erestor since their car disagreement. So Erestor called for Lindir. Lindir could do nothing substantial. So he was sent to wait outside Aralindë's school until dismissal and bring her back to deal with Glorfindel.
Meanwhile, Elrohir stood in the living room with a dopey grin on his face, prompting Legolas to whisper to me that he thinks "Elrohir maybe took the little statue". What a mind that boy has...
At some later point Aralindë managed to convince Elrohir to put Manwë back on the shelf. He then solemnly vowed never to rearrange the Valar again. So he's now randomly turning dad's teacups upside-down and pretending a ghost did it.
Legolas' dad rang today wondering what the [censored] Legolas is up to and when he's coming home. Legolas and Arwen were sitting by the fire having a moment, and I didn't want to disturb them. In fact, I didn't want to go near them. So I handed the telephone over to Glorfindel, who is the only person Thranduil will talk to in a reasonably friendly-like way. They chatted for five minutes or so until (I'm guessing) Thranduil realised it was long distance. So Glorfindel said, "I'll ring you back, then," and he did. They chatted for another half hour about everything in the world but Legolas, from the price of stamps to the least expensive brand of tinned lentils available from Safeways.
In the last minute of conversation, Glorfindel said, "Probably at least until spring, I'd think. I'll IM you tomorrow with details. But it's no bother for now, really. Don't worry about it." Then he hung up and went into the living room to tell Legolas that he wasn't expected home until June.
Great! That's just great! And here I was all along hoping he'd be gone by now! But no, looks like I'm stuck putting up with him all winter. Maybe at least Arwen will be a decent distraction. When I last peeked in on them, she was teaching him how to make a small poinsettia cross-stitch. It has occurred to me that Arwen might not want a boyfriend after all; what she really wants is a sister.
I think Glorfindel has forgiven Elrohir for the mishandling of the Valar, because they seem to be very good friends now. They're in the kitchen, standing at the blender and trying to invent a vegan substitute for egg nog. I can see a carton of milk-inspired soy beverage on the counter beside a can of Coke and a bottle of rum, which seems to work its way into 99% of Glorfindel's drinks. I just know this is going to turn into a disaster. Therefore I am not going anywhere near the kitchen until they've had ample time to clean up. Last time Elrohir was inspired to use the blender I was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time by dad and had to spend a good hour wiping cranberry puree from the cupboard doors.
Elrohir has posted his list to the fridge door. I can't read most of it, but "IGUANA" seems to be printed prominently at the top in green ink. The item listed below that looks like it might say "iguana cage", but I'm not sure. Four other illegible things are written below "iguana cage", then "nintendo games", then a bunch of other things that I don't even think are written in any known alphabet or language. Seeing as it's the only thing I could both read and afford, I went out to the pawn shop and bought him Legend of Zelda, Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, and Bubble Bobble. I put the games in shiny holographic silver bag, which in itself should keep him amused for at least an hour.
Only ten more shopping days left until Arfiommereth. I should probably start making peace with all the people I've fought with this year (namely dad and Erestor), and also start being generally nicer.
I had a talk with dad today. I decided to give in and apologise for our disagreements, even though everything is clearly his fault and I wasn't even sure what I was apologising for anymore. It went very well and he gave me a hug, saying we should make a better effort at communication in the future. Then he said I should probably get around to putting my list up on the fridge, as he was planning on going shopping after work tomorrow.
So I made the following list:
External DVD burner for computer
Ski hat and gloves
Blank VHS tapes
Slippers (not animal-shaped!)
Gift certificate for book shop
I also included a supplementary list of suggestions for cheap crap I wouldn't mind getting from Elrohir, as he never seems to do his shopping any earlier than five minutes before the convenience stores close on the 24th:
Lemon-scented PineFresh tree for the Topaz
Deck of cards
Film for camera
I wanted to make peace with Erestor today, but he didn't come home from work until after nine. I am now worried that he's already done his shopping and my peace-making will be too late. Bugger. And he always buys really good presents, too. He seems to have made peace with Glorfindel, though, because I saw them talking together, and it wasn't an argument over their cars.
After too many weeks of guests, dad has finally decided that Frodo's three Hobbit friends will be accompanying Frodo to Mordor, along with a few others. I pointed out that maybe it might be better if Elrohir and I went instead of Merry and Pippin, we being somewhat more experienced in this whole travelling-questing business. He said that could be arranged if I thought it was best, and then said that the others travelling would be Aragorn, Boromir, Gandalf, Gimli, and Legolas.
On second thought, I think it might be more beneficial for Elrohir and I to stay home. Dad needs us here, after all.
So dad had a party to announce the formation of the Fellowship of the Ring. We all sat around on the deck and ate barbequed hotdogs and drank egg nog. Elrohir and Glorfindel, though, came up with their experimental corn nog to add to the festivities. I didn't ask, but it appeared to be made out of creamed corn and Coke. I'm sure Elrohir has the recipe written in his Nog Log. He's been keeping track of all the various nogs he's had since the beginning of the month, as well as what he put in them.
Everything was going well enough until Arwen came to sit next to Legolas, carrying a plate with three hot dogs on it. Legolas' eyes widened and he said, "She's eating hot dogs like how many I eat hot dogs!" Arwen (who obviously has better luck deciphering his babble than I do) scowled and said, "Are you insinuating that I eat too much?!" but Legolas could only point and say, "Three hot dogs!"
Thoroughly insulted, Arwen stood up in a storm of dramatic sighs and said to dad, "He thinks I'm fat!" Dad had his mouth too full of rice pudding to reply, but luckily Aragorn was skulking nearby and immediately jumped to her defence, saying "Three hot dogs is the exact right number for someone who is very thin but athletic!" Arwen nodded.
Then Aragorn put his hand around Arwen's shoulders protectively and led her away. "Don't worry," he said, "these hot dogs are very small and you certainly need to eat at least three to keep your strength up." He ended up eating seven hot dogs just to make her feel better. I think they are back together again.
I spent the entire day at the mall trying to find gifts for everyone, but only managed to buy a designer volleyball tee-shirt for Arwen. Then I met up with Elrohir after his shift at work, desperately in need of some stress relief. He was wearing a string of jingle bells around his neck. That helped a bit.
We wanted to go catch a movie, but for some reason there were ridiculous queues up outside the cinema. So we went home instead and watched crappy old Fiommereth movies from the Second Age on community television.
I managed to get a bit more shopping done. Dad has posted his list to the fridge, so that made things a bit easier. He is the only person I know who will ask for both a medium-sized Phillips head screwdriver and rose-scented bath salts. I ended up getting him satin pyjama bottoms and a few cinema admission coupons. Then I found a dance mix CD for Legolas and a Sights of Middle-earth calendar for Bilbo, as well as a generic Fiommereth food gift basket for the other Hobbits. I still don't know what to get for Aragorn, though. I was considering getting him a shaving set, but he might be insulted by that.
Glorfindel has invited Elrohir and me to Lindir's karaoke and ping pong Fiommereth party tonight. I am finished my shopping now (having bought a crossword puzzle book for Gandalf, a snowboard magazine for Boromir, and a travelling backpack for Aragorn earlier today), so I might end up going just to try to get me into the holiday spirit. Elrohir is definitely going, and is wearing his festive socks that light up whenever he takes a step. Which makes me think that I probably ought to go, if just to keep an eye on him. He gets a bit excited at parties, even ones full of old people playing ping pong.
Even thought I've never known him very well, I've always considered Lindir to be pretty much a watered-down version of Erestor. Now having met and talked to him outside of work, I'm quite certain he's pretty much a watered-down version of Erestor. Very watered-down. He met us at the door, wearing a festive green sweater with bells on it, and shook everyone's hands in a way that indicated he has no muscles in his arms. I was almost afraid to hand him the plate of veggies and dip Aralindë made for fear he'd drop it. But he took it and said, "Oh, super!" then scurried off into the kitchen. His wife, who was wearing a remarkably low-cut gold dress and enough fake diamonds to blind an army, took our coats. She kept accidentally brushing her bosom against Glorfindel's arm as she did.
She told Elrohir and Aralindë that the kids were all in the basement watching television. Elrohir took one look at the party, which was in full swing with various parental-types standing around holding paper cups and filo pastries, and took off for the stairs. Then Lindir's wife introduced herself to Glorfindel as Fainelleth before making the common mistake of turning to Aralindë and saying, "And this must be your... daughter?" Glorfindel forced a smile and said, "Girlfriend, actually." Fainelleth got an awkward sort of "Oh" look on her face. Glorfindel and Aralindë mercifully excused themselves to discover the alcohol. I decided my best bet would be to follow Elrohir.
We spent most of the party sitting around on bean bag chairs, drinking Coke. Two who may or may not have been Lindir's kids played ping pong. I noticed that there was a real live arcade-style pinball table in the corner, but alas it was broken. And Elrohir was busy chatting up some girl with an eyebrow ring, so I couldn't even talk to him. All in all I think I would have been better off staying home to help dad and Arwen make mincemeat tarts.
Around midnight I went back upstairs to ask Glorfindel how late we'd be staying, and found him with a rum drink in one hand and a microphone in the other, singing "Born to be Wild" half a beat behind the music. Lindir was trying to do backup vocals, but I don't think there are any backup vocals on that song so it wasn't working too well. I walked away slowly without making eye contact and was just about at the stairs again when I ran into Erestor. He looked like he was having a great time. He also looked like he could be Lindir's long-lost brother: same dopey expression. Only he was wearing a red sweater with no bells. Also, he seems to have muscles in his arms, since he dragged me outside to go for a walk around the back yard.
He talked about a variety of stuff as we walked in small circles (Lindir's back yard isn't very big). I think the point he was trying to make was that he was sorry for the difficulties we had this summer and would like to try again. I would have said something in agreement, but he has this disturbing habit of kissing me abruptly and when I least expect it, so I was unable to voice my assent.
Elrohir eventually came out to say it was time to go, right as we were doing something important beside the mugo pines. At the time I was somewhat upset over his interruption, but in retrospect I'm sure it was for the best. I would have hated to have caused some sort of problem with Lindir's neighbours over public decency bylaws. I ended up getting a ride home with Erestor, and I'm glad I did. Elrohir, stuck in the car with Glorfindel, was conned into agreeing to go to Aralindë's school Fiommereth concert on Monday. Ha!
On the drive home Erestor and I agreed to keep our relationship a secret. He said that we really shouldn't worry about it too much, since everybody already knows he has gayish leanings, but I told him that nobody knows about *me* and I don't want to trouble them with such a shock over the holidays. He paused and slowly said, "Right..." So we agreed to tell everyone in the new year. And I'm going to keep up the appearance of not dating by continuing to share the sofa with Elrohir, at least until the Hobbits go (three more days).
Aragorn is acting all weird and quiet. I hope he's remembered to buy presents for everyone. There are only two shopping days left until Arfiommereth.
Everything is getting a bit busy around here, with last minute baking emergencies and mad scrambles to dig all the seasonal tapes out from the tape bin. Arwen started off hand-stitching a bunch of new decorative crafts, but has given up on that and pulled out the glue gun. Erestor had at one point been trying to learn a few holiday songs to play on the piano, but I think he's abandoned that idea now and has gone back to just "Aladdin Sane". And Glorfindel is looking generally lost. He asked me earlier, in a tired voice, if I wouldn't mind if he gave me just a gift certificate or something. I said that would be fine. Fiommereth shopping is a bit beyond him, I think.
Then he said he doesn't know why people buy each other presents for "Fiommerel" anyway. I said I didn't either and, if you think about it, it really doesn't make any sense. His theory is that gift-giving evolved from the unquenchable Noldorin desire to make things and force them upon others. He never got any presents when he was a kid in Valmar, so the consumerist mentality obviously couldn't have come from the Vanyar.
I asked him what people did for Fiommereth in Valmar back then, and he said they mostly sat around and ate special food. But they weren't allowed to do any work, so the food had to be made the day before. Then they sang songs. So Glorfindel started to sing,
Á tula, ily' Eldar
Á tula, nai liralyë
Á thanga, nai thangalyë
Kenalmitas, i nórë Valaro
Á tula, á laita ro
Á tula, á laita ro
Nai laita ilyë ro
Though I think his pronunciation might have included a few more Ds and Zs.
Afterward, I asked Legolas what they did for Fiommereth in Mirkwood. He said it was more or less a big party with lots of drinking and singing and dancing, and they give presents as well. They don't have silver or gold Fiommereth trees, though. Nor to they recognise any association with Eonwë or the Valar. In fact, their holiday used to be called Arpherhîw back a long time ago, but Fiommereth eventually took over due to cultural assimilation with Sindar from northern Beleriand who were converted by Noldorin missionaries in the First Age, and also because of the greeting card industry.
I was impressed that he knew all this. He grinned and said he learned it from television.
I am starting to see things from Glorfindel's point of view. Here we have a real religious day to honour the birth of the son of Manwë, and everyone keeps falling back to old Sindarin traditions as an excuse to get drunk and eat pudding. Everyone in Valinor must be looking over to us in shame. Especially to Elrohir. He's rigged up a battery pack to a string of coloured lights and decorated himself.
But then again, the minute Glorfindel got back from Aralindë's concert he immediately found himself a glass of egg nog and joined the festivities with ivy vines in his hair. So maybe I'd do best not to be too concerned about it.
December 24th (Fiommerethin)
When Elrohir and I were wee, Elrohir would always get so excited that he couldn't sleep. As a result, we were locked in the basement with a whole assortment of toys and games and ended up sitting awake the whole night playing Payday. Inevitably, half an hour after we'd been sent down, dad would stand at the top of the stairs and yell, "Hey Celebrían, where did you put those socks and underwear we bought for Elrohir?" Which would never fail to make Elrohir look very worried and yell back, "I don't want socks and underwear, I want a race car set!"
We continued to be locked in the basement until Arwen was born. Then the real fun began, tormenting her by saying, "Oh no! It's Fiommerethin and dad forgot to mail your letter to Aulë!" She caught onto that one after two years, though. And when she was ten, Elrohir took it upon himself to explain that toys weren't really made by Aulë and his workshop of Elves in the west, but by a factory in Gondor. And they weren't really delivered by Oromë and Nahar, but bought by mum and dad from a store and stuck under the tree after we went to bed. I don't think she ever really forgave him for destroying the magic. Years later, Elrohir did the same thing to Aragorn. But Aragorn rolled his eyes and said, "Duh!"
Now even after all this time, Elrohir still can't sleep on Fiommerethin. So he's playing Payday with Legolas. I don't think Legolas can sleep either. But that might be because Elrohir keeps punching him in the arm whenever he starts to nod off.
December 25th (Arfiommereth)
Elrohir woke me up this morning by bouncing on the bed and shaking me while yelling, "Wake up wake up wake up!" just in case I wasn't already 100% sure of his intentions. Legolas was standing a few feet away, shaking Elrohir and saying, "Elrohir Elrohir! Tell him to wake up!" I looked at the clock. It was quarter to seven. I groaned and tried to explain that dad specifically ordered him to stay in bed until at least eight, but he was already off and running to wake dad, Arwen, Aragorn, Glorfindel, and Erestor. Legolas took off after him to harass Boromir, Gandalf, and the Hobbits. I went back to sleep.
Elrohir woke me up again at two minutes after eight, looking a bit less chipper. I think dad must've locked him in the basement. But I got up and followed him to the kitchen, where everyone had gathered around coffee mugs. Glorfindel looked particularly horrible, leaning over his coffee and glaring at Elrohir with bloodshot eyes. He is not a morning person. I stood next to Erestor and watched as the Hobbits stumbled in. They are obviously not morning people either.
Finally, when everyone had gathered, dad announced that we could unwrap presents. Elrohir was the first one to run and sit by the tree, handing out gifts to everyone. That's his job every year. I got:
A DVD burner from "Aulë"
A DVD documentary about Fingolfin also from "Aulë"
A full-length bathrobe and matching slippers from dad
Assorted socks, underwear, and tee-shirts also from dad
Suede gloves from Arwen
A CD of 21 different computer pinball games from Elrohir (working in retail seems to have improved his shopping skills)
A book on photography techniques and a set of close-up filters from Erestor
A whole bunch of cinema passes from Glorfindel
A decorative throw pillow from Legolas
A tin of Laffy Taffy and some blank tapes from Aragorn
A book of trivia games from Boromir
A bedside lamp from the Hobbits (probably to replace the one Frodo broke)
A tin of smoked oysters from Bilbo (???)
A card and a wad of cash from Gandalf
A set of five bathroom towels in assorted sizes from grandma and grandpa
After it was all done and over with, Elrohir had the biggest pile of loot by far. I attribute this to the fact that everything he likes is cheap and plentiful. His favourite gift was a remote control rat (on wheels) from Erestor. He's been crashing it into people's feet all day. But the most sensational gift was Arwen's from Aragorn- an insanely big diamond ring. She screamed and jumped up and down and nearly crushed Elrohir's rat as it zoomed past. I think this means they're engaged now. I wonder if dad approves.
At ten we sat down for a quick breakfast while watching grandma and grandpa's Arfiommereth speech on television. Then we had to hurry and get dressed in our best clothes for dad's televised speech, and to see off Frodo and company (finally!) as they left for Mordor. Arwen sobbed and fiddled with her ring throughout the entire thing.
It took a thankfully short time to get everyone's stuff all packed up into the hired bus Aragorn was driving, but Boromir stood around looking surly over having to follow Aragorn's lead. I told him that Aragorn is supposed to be king of Gondor one day, so maybe Boromir would do best to get used to his leadership. Boromir frowned and then, after a pause, asked me if I though Aragorn would be open to legalising weed once he's king. I assured him that would be right on top Aragorn's priority list. He looked a bit better then and got into the bus.
I said a quick goodbye to everyone else, and promised Legolas I would try to remember to email him at least once. Then dad had a chat with Gandalf, and the bus took off. Arwen started sobbing again and wailed that she missed Aragorn. He'd been gone for three minutes. The next few months are going to be unbearable.
We went back into the house and all sat down in time to watch Círdan's Arfiommereth speech on television. Then Elrohir and I were told to move all our stuff out of the den and back to our own bedrooms. Elrohir grumbled as he walked into his room, but came bolting out two seconds later yelling "I GOT AN IGUANA!!!" I ran to see, and indeed there was a small green iguana sitting on a branch in a terrarium on his dresser. In all the excitement caused by the remote control rat, I guess he forgot that dad hadn't given him his present yet. He took the iguana out, put it on his head, and it sat there all through supper. He told everyone its name is Dr. Green, but later he whispered to me that the iguana's secret name is Gil-galad. He just can't tell anyone else because they'd be angry. I warned him to be particularly wary of this around Erestor.
After supper we gathered in the television room again, with Gil-galad the iguana still sitting on Elrohir's head, to watch Olwë's speech live via satellite from Alqualondë. An hour later there was Finarfin's speech from Tirion. About halfway through, when the camera switched to pan the crowd, Glorfindel suddenly jumped up, pointed at the television and yelled, "That's my mum!" Unfortunately the camera had already cut away and we missed it. But still Glorfindel sat right up next to the screen for the rest of the speech, and all through Ingwë's speech at midnight, in case she showed up again. But no luck.
Now Glorfindel is completely confused. Everyone else has gone to bed already, but he's still sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of tea, trying to figure out how and why his mum would be in Tirion, and on television. I suggested that she might have just gone for the speech, but he insists such a thing wouldn't make any sense. So he's going to sit and worry about it all night, because doing that sure does make sense...
Me, I don't care. If I saw my mum on television in Tirion, I wouldn't worry about it. But then, I am very tired right now. So I am going to watch my new Fiommereth DVD and hopefully fall asleep leaning on Erestor's shoulder. That would be the best end to a good day, I think.
Translation note: Glorfindel's seasonal song is a very dodgy Quendya rendering of 'O Come All Ye Faithful'.
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.