Every Christmas Eve, my parents would send my brother, sister and me off to bed at a reasonably early hour. They would hang out in the living room to “tidy up a little bit” for Santa’s arrival.
Of course, we left cookies and a beer for Santa, and some carrots for the reindeer. And of course, in the morning, they had all disappeared. Not that we noticed for at least an hour.
We were too busy taking in all the amazing presents Santa had brought us. A bike, a race car track, a dollhouse…Santa’s presents were BIG. And they were never in boxes and therefore never wrapped. They towered above the collection of gift wrapped boxes we had become familiar with over the past few weeks. (When Santa visited my wife’s childhood home, the presents he delivered were wrapped. Even the ones in the stocking. Crazy.)
Years later, I learned my Dad would spend hours assembling all manner of toys and diversions every Christmas Eve—with Mom pitching in, of course. The cookies and beer undoubtedly helping him to power through the assembly process.
As I reflect on it, Dad looked pretty exhausted most Christmas mornings, but he also seemed to carry a glint of satisfaction. Of triumph.
I can easily imagine my Dad, deep into Christmas Eve, encountering the next gift that would require his construction efforts. Although I don’t believe he ever spoke the actual words, I can hear him defiantly responding to the text on the outside of a box, “Some assembly required, eh? HA! Some Assembly Required is my middle name!”