It’s become an annual tradition in our house to pick a day, usually during the Christmas holiday break, to watch all three Lord Of The Rings movies back-to-back. And not just the plain ol’ theater release versions. The extra-long directors cuts. Eleven hours and twenty-two minutes from start to finish. A full two hours and four minutes longer than the original theater releases.

We set aside two full days and turn it into a family marathon — with the sound cranked so the room vibrates just like in the theater. It does take that long when you add in meals, bathroom breaks, and, y’know, sleeping. Plus, sitting still to watch a three-and-a-half or four hour movie is, believe it or not, taxing. Afterwards, there’s getting up and stretching, walking around, and generally shaking off the lethargy.

I usually hover along the edges of the room — delivering munchies and drinks, clearing away the used or dirty dishes, and making sure we don’t miss meals or anything else while the extra-long movies run…and run…and run.

Remember when Lord Of The Rings first came out? The anticipation? I do. My house vibrated with it for months. Tracy and the kids were dying for it to hit theaters. They re-read all the books and began to pray that Peter Jackson would do it “right”. And, of course, we all know that he did. At least, I’m assured that he did.

In truth, swords and sorcery, elves and dwarfs and ogres, as well as quests and hobbits — not really my thing. I don’t begrudge them to anyone else. They just don’t do anything for me. Thanks but no thanks.

But, I’m an open-minded kind of guy for the most part. And Tracy and the kids were so excited about going to see The Fellowship of the Ring. So, I thought, “What the hell… if it’s causing this much of a stir, there must be something to it.” And we made it a family outing.

We bought opening night tickets several days in advance. Had dinner very early so we could get to the theater early and get a good seat. Skipped the popcorn and drinks in favor of a good spot in the line. Stood in line for almost two hours, right near the front. Had the boys rush ahead through the crowd once the doors opened so we could get five seats together. Talked excitedly about the story about to unfold before us while we waited. Held our breath in anticipation when the lights went down and the trailers started. Squirmed in our seats until the trailers were over and the New Line Cinema logo came on the screen. And the same could be said for every other person in the packed-to-the-rafters theater.

I tried. I really tried. Really, I did.

15 minutes into that first movie, my head was back, my eyes were shut, my mouth was open and I was snoring.

Y’know… it truly is amazing how fully, completely and quickly you can get jolted awake by an elbow to the ribs from your wife. I’m just sayin’…