It's over 17 years now. I was a primarily stay at home homeschooling mom of five, ages from early teens to two year old. I ran across a link to something here from the tolkien-movies site, which was the only site I knew of at the time with movie information. I'd first read LOTR when I was nine years old back in 1969, and reread it many times, so I was eager to find out about the movies. I found this place, which was fairly small back then (but within a month it began growing rapidly). There were people here who knew far more about LOTR than I did-- and that's saying a lot! Heck, I gave my eldest daughter the middle name of Elanor-- for the flower. VERY FEW people "got" that. In fact, the only people I knew who "got" that were members of my family who also read the books in '69. But here... wow! I learned so much more about Middle Earth from y'all (all of whom understood where I got my daughter's name). I loved the community, even the purist/revisionist wars. Loved the humor I found here, too. My kids are all grown now-- my "baby" just turned 19. And my "Elanor" now 29 years old, lives in New Zealand (south island-- she wrote me when she got there: "Mom, I'm in Rohan"
). But my youngest two, ages 22 and 19, are major Silm fans. Things i never expected to come from my kids' mouth: "Mom, Feanor was a Butthead." They remember from their earliest years my talking about what I read on this site, and I think that contributed to their own curiosity about Middle Earth.
Thanks Ted (and Jon!)