A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Assembly Required--A Christmas Memory

christmas 2007Image by paparutzi via Flickr          Once I'd become old enough to have some semblance of intelligence, which is to say I could sort of read and follow directions, I became the official Christmas eve assembler for the toys that my younger brothers and sister would be greeted with the following morning.  I was Santa stand-in after my Santa dreams were shaken into reality.

           My dad was a good dad, but he was not good at mechanical and handyman sorts of projects.  He was a bookkeeper by day and a professional juggler in his not particularly secret other life outside of work.  Forget fixing broken things around the house or do-it-yourself car repairs or any of those types of jobs.  

          When I was little I just figured Santa's elves had assembled all of my toys and the big jolly guy just delivered them while I was sleeping.  Actually come to think of it I don't know that I ever got many gifts that needed assembly.  My mother must have had some sort of arrangement about that back then.   But once she figured out that I could figure out stuff, I became the handy kid of the house.

          My mother would go all out at Christmas when it came to buying toys for my younger siblings.  I usually went on the shopping trips and egged her on as I looked for things that I could have fun playing with.  Then Christmas Eve, my closest sister in age and I would help my mother wrap the presents as we listened to Christmas music or had some special holiday program turned on the television.

           Each year, the gifts that required assembly became bigger and more elaborate.  My father would retire early leaving me with the chore of putting together the crazy stuff my mother had bought.   My mother, sister, and I would be up late wrapping, chatting, and laughing.  At times I might let out a scream of frustration when my Christmas projects were not fitting together like the instructions showed, but I was committed to fulfilling my yuletide mission.

          I suppose those Christmas mornings back then were worth the effort, all of us in pajamas watching the wonderment of the younger ones.  My father watched with good-nature and perhaps a smug satisfaction that he hadn't had to put any of the toys together.  And though I put on airs of reluctance on the eve of toy assembly, it always gave me a certain sense of pride in the part that I had played in those Christmases when I was younger.

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Journaling Woman said...

Great story, but kind of sad to think of all the pressure put on you at Christmas to assemble.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger? I really don't like that saying. Ha!


Jemi Fraser said...

Great story Lee! I bet Dads over the ages have dreaded the Christmas Eve put together tasks! :)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful story Lee most enjoyable to read, how these memories come back to us.


Geoff Maritz said...

Nice story Lee. It must have been an interesting time in your life. My dad was the one who built our Christmas presents and we had a whale of a time helping him. God bless you today, Geoff.

Kelly Robinson said...

Forget assembling --I just about lose a digit trying to get some of the darned things opened!

Arlee Bird said...

Thanks for the visits. Kelly, I agree about the packaging--there must some amazing engineering that goes into creating some of that stuff.

Wrote By Rote

website designers adelaide said...

This is a great story Lee. There maybe some sad parts but all is well. You may have the Christmas pressure with you but you still got through it. I admire your perseverance.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

What a wonderful memory. This had me smiling so big. Thank you for this :0)


I can just imagine your sense of pride in tackling those assembly projects. Good for you. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Tanya Reimer said...

Oh my Lee, I love your story. It made me feel all warm inside, because it brought back my own memories of sitting with my dad and assembling toys.
Happy holidays. Thanks for sharing the magic.

Richard said...

I agree with Kelly. The packaging today to prevent theft makes opening them like trying to break into Fort Knox. You need more tools to get the toy out of the box than you need to assemble it.

Al Penwasser said...

Thankfully, my days of assembling this or that have come to an end. Now, I tell the college kid and his sister, "You guys know how to put those things together better than I do. I'm gonna try on my socks [no assembly required]."
NOTE: They got their iPods, computer speakers, snowboard bindings, iTunes working swell.
And the socks fit.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I was the wrapper once I figured out the truth. My dad was handy, so he got to do the handy stuff, but my mom hated wrapping with a passion by that time. The evening of Christmas Eve would come, and I would be up wrapping presents for my four siblings, ribbons and everything. Now I do not look forward to the wrapping. ;-p At that time, it made me have that same sense of pride, and it was a pleasure to be in on the secret.

Arlee Bird said...

Some wonderful comments here and I appreciate them all. They gave me smiles and a bit of a glow.

Wrote By Rote

Rachel said...

What a sweet post! I now have the joy of watching my nieces and nephew open their Christmas presents, and it gives me a sense of wonder even greater than when I opened mine as a child.
PS--I LOVED the "are you living or dying" post from Tossing It Out, and I'm glad you received an alert to let you know I had linked to it.

Empty Nest Insider said...

It's great that you've always been handy, and your dad must've been very proud of you. I know that you're still a tremendous help to your family, and it's nice that it hasn't changed. Julie

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

When my kids were smaller, I was the one who assembled. I didn't think ahead enough to do it before the opening. I wish I had. But, it taught me to think before I purchased when "some assembly required" was on the box!