Along for the ride:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Assembly Required

When our daughter was young we had to decide what our Christmas traditions were going to be. According to Hubby, French children go to bed on Christmas Eve in an undecorated home and awake the next morning to a house magically transformed by Elves; a tree installed in all its glory overnight and garnished with presents all around.
I agreed that this sounded very special, from a kid's perspective and undertook to make it happen.
My memories of that time include traipsing around the near desolate "Emerald Forest" Xmas tree lot on a dark and rainy Christmas Eve, trying to pick an evergreen that was not shedding its needles or looking as if its branches had bed-head on one side.
Dragging home the chosen Fir, leaving sticky resinous sap in my car for ever more, we smuggled it into the living room with much shushing and giggling. We unwrapped tree ornaments, untwisted tinsel and untangled skeins of tiny colored lights. The candy canes were hung on the branches, (new ones as last years canes had become ant-infested), all the while being intermittently pounced on by our young cat, who believed that the tree and all the accoutrements were for her entertainment alone.
One memorable present was a large wooden doll's house that opened to allow access to the rooms inside. There was Lilliputian furniture that could be rearranged and even lights that could be switched on and off.
As 4 a.m. Xmas Eve (Christmas Day morning) came and went and I was still glueing individual shingles on to the roof of our "some assembly required" Doll's House, that had exited it's packing box in a million pieces, with an instruction manual a foot thick, I vowed that next year's Elves would be taking a more leisured approach; spreading out their preparations, allowing our daughter to participate in the process.
I do carry a snapshot in my mind's eye of a blond, blue eyed angel, her whole face shining and expressing an "Ohhh!" of wonderment as she descended the stairs that Christmas morning to survey the magnificent results of some very hard working Christmas Tree Fairies.


  1. My poor stepmother is probably still reeling from the year, '64, '65, '66, that the children (with one plierly ringleader) got up at 2am and had Christmas without the adults...

    I have an advantage here, having known the Lovely daughter since she was 18 months old it is not at all difficult to bring to mind that wonderful, perspicacious little face.

  2. How wonderful, lucky little girl!!!

  3. The very idea of this is enough to make me want to forget about Christmas forever. Yes, indeed, I do agree that your daughter was very lucky indeed, and that the experience of her delight and astonishment was worth all that effort, but it just takes me back to 4AM on Christmas morning, still wrapping presents and sewing the final seams on four dressing gowns.

    I am actually overcome with warm and fuzzy feelings about this post, ER, but underneath that is my usual angst about not being ready in time for the big day. Even though my kids are all in their twenties and all profess to be totally content with any little thing.

    So, good on ya for doing all that! Hurray for parents who care about making some magic for their most beloved ones! And lucky Lovely Daughter for getting to keep a memory like that.

  4. A fantastic memory. Wouldn't it be grand if that was the way Christmas could always be.

    I remember reading about Victorian Christmas, where one room was closed off to the children and on Christmas eve the candles on the tree were lit and the children allowed in... I don't know why but this rendition of Christmas always disturbed me.. house fires etc I guess.

  5. many memories, sadly none of them can ever be repeated with such magic in our adult lives.

  6. Where would we be without sleepless Christmas Eve's? Your's worked out magical despite the nightmare jig saw puzzle doll's house. My Nemesis last year was a giant inflatable bubble chair that came with no pump except my lungs. I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it.

    Happy Christmas!!!

  7. What a wonderful memory for your daughter! I'm secretly smiling knowing that very soon I am going to be watching my hubby assemble a bike from Santa with "some assembly required".

  8. Pliers, We also had one Christmas in the Yucatan. Questions about how Santa would find us, but he did. I hope he finds you there too.

    Di, I must ask if she remembers. You never know.

    Deborah, I never thought about my parents' late nights. My sister and I would go to sleep, after leaving cookies for Santa by the tree. In the half light of morning our beds would be strangely cluttered. There would be the inevitable stocking with chocolate coins, a mandarin orange, some nuts and little gifts. There would also be a large pillow case full of lumpy shapes. We would drag those to our parents' bed to open together. Adults, dogs, cats, children and cups of tea.

  9. @eloh, as I read your comment I immediately thought of fire risks. We have had other fun Christmases. Did you ever read my Happy Hopping Penis post? The gift that keeps on giving.

    Jimmy, I'm not sure I agree. You have Grandchildren. You revisit through their eyes, if you so choose.

    Eejit, Oh no! It is hard enough to inflate our pool toys. I'm guessing you realized too late to have the local garage pump it up for you.

  10. Shattered, I advise not being too obvious in your mirth. I also want to read all about it on your blog when the time comes.

  11. Idyllic. The stuff dreams and love are made of.

  12. What a snapshot to have in your mind's eye! Priceless.

  13. Magical images! You've given me an idea for a blog post of my own now, cheers!

  14. Your daughter is so lucky that you're an ambitious person!! I get shivers just thinking about the stress that would cause. The look on her face must have been well worth it though!

  15. What a lovely tale, sounds just like old-fashioned German Christmasses. It was alright to do this in the days when present were limited and and had been made or bought during the advent period.

    When I was older I was allowed to help decorate the tree on Christmas Eve - it didn't come in any earlier - and I remember wonderful family occasions doing this.

  16. Okay, took me a minute, 3 March post.

    You should totally re-post that for the holidays!

  17. What a great Christmas Morning it must have been!

    I can remember sitting up all night with some friends trying to put a rocking horse together for a friend's son. The men refused to look at the directions and when they were all "done" had some essential parts left Typical. Had to take it all apart and start all over again. "all night" became "all morning too!!"