Most Precious Gifts

by MerryK

“Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.” —Anonymous

Faramir looked around his table with warmth and pride, and leaned over to whisper to Eowyn: “Is it not a lovely sight tonight?”

Eowyn, a little less poetic than her husband, took another look to see if she had missed something important.

Just across from her, on Faramir’s immediate left, sat Elboron, their eldest, pretending that the knife in his one hand was dueling with the spoon in his other hand.

Next to her elder brother was Theowyn, five years old, and just tall enough that her eyes showed above the table in a full sized chair. This fact, of course, made it so that she begged and pestered to be allowed to leave her “baby” seat. Even now she was looking enviously at her brother, and Eowyn felt that at any moment she would either poke him for no apparent reason, thus causing a tussle, or ask once again to have a big seat just like him.

At the end, in a very high chair, sat little Beren, a perfect nobleman’s son at only two years old. Perfect, that is, if it were not for the fact that he was using his fork to stab his chair in what he thought were interesting patterns.

And Turion, the new baby, was drooling resolutely on the sleeve of her gown and reaching for more mashed apples. Eowyn deduced that he still did not desire them to eat, but to continue his various projects with them: using them to test gravity, seeing if it was more fun drooling them on his mother’s clothes, putting them on his fingers to paint the table, using them as makeshift facial cream, or even mischiefs yet unimagined.

Then she looked back at Faramir, and caught the quiet humor in his eyes, and laughed softly. “Yes, very lovely.”

“Did you ever imagine it might one day be like this?” he asked.

“No,” she said fervently. “Not once.”

He laughed. “I did not mean the drool and mashed apple, of course, but the fact that we are together, in peace, in our own house, with a family; and the fact that our children do not have to worry that any moment their father might be called away to war.”

Eowyn looked up into his eyes with a quiet appreciation. “I know,” she said, reaching for and squeezing his hand. “There are moments where I forget how lucky we are and how heartbroken I would be if I lost my wonderful, exasperating family. Inexplicably, though they drive me out of my mind during the day, every night I can do nothing but thank whatever power is ruling this world for the fact that they are able to cause trouble, not having to find comfort in each other’s arms for the loss of loved ones, as might easily have been.”

“I am glad,” said Faramir, and he leaned in closer to give her a kiss. “Because I think the same.”

“Ada! Not at the table!” cried Elboron.

“I will do what I like at my own table,” responded his father nobly. “You should remember that you are only here because your parents love each other, and be very grateful.”

“Yes, but not at the table,” muttered Elboron in response.

“Wonderful and exasperating, eh?” asked Faramir with amusement. “May I quote you on that, beloved?”

“With pleasure,” responded Eowyn lovingly. “And now, supper should begin.”

“What is supper, Mummy?” asked Theowyn.

“Honeyed ham,” answered her mother.

“But I hate honeyed ham!” said Theowyn in an adamant and disappointed manner. “I have never eaten it before!”

“How can you say that you hate it if you have never had it?” asked Eowyn.

“And Theowyn, there is no complaining about food,” put in Faramir warningly.

“But I do hate it,” she muttered. “It has icky fat on it.”

The servants came in, bearing great silver platters with sliced ham, which they laid before Faramir. Theowyn looked up from where she had been fiddling with her napkin, and exclaimed:

”Oh! Honeyed ham! I remember this; I have eaten it. This is my favorite food in the whole world!”

Eowyn did not sigh, nor did she roll her eyes, nor did she say “See what I told you?” She looked at Faramir, and he looked back at her, and then they laughed together.

Oh yes, domestic life at Emyn Arnen could never be called boring, and Eowyn would not change it for the thrones of Gondor and Arnor. Well, perhaps she could do without the drool...and the misuse of silverware...and the moodiness...and mismatched stockings—but those would pass with time and discipline and she could deal with them, knowing that beneath all the irritations of daily life was her family and her home, the most precious gifts that life could offer. And she would never let herself forget it.

The End