M. Giant's
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Thursday, December 27, 2007  

Christmas Eve

M. Small seemed to be asleep as we drove home from Trash's dad's house at 8:30 p.m. on Christmas eve, but she was discreet anyway. Just in case.

"How long do you think it will take for us to…you know, wait for Santa?" she asked.

"About an hour," I guessed. I thought that was being generous. How long could it take to drag a few wrapped toys out and stick them under the tree, after all? I have rarely been more wrong.

He barely woke up when we got home and I transferred him from his car seat to his bed, removing his coat and other items in the process. I came right back down and started on one of his items, a small toy kitchen.

"Oh, crap," I said, looking at the thirty sheets of molded plastic comprising approximately nine hundred different parts.

Shortly thereafter, he rolled over a little stuffed lamb that recites a death-free version of the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer, and it kept chattering until he woke up and I had to go back and read him some stories. While I was doing that, Trash finished everything else and came up to relieve me. Not that having to return to a task equal in complexity to assembling a particle accelerator was such a "relief," per se, but that's the expression.

While Trash was singing him to sleep, I was able to concentrate on the task long enough to realize that it wasn't as bad as it had at first seemed. There were many pages of detailed graphical instructions, and all of the parts were labeled right on them with lettering from A to YYYYYYY. Plus each step told me which parts sheet I needed to take the necessary parts from. The fact that each step required a part from nearly every parts sheet in no way diminished the thoughtfulness of this gesture.

And it got even better when Trash came down to help me. At first she remarked, "I'm beginning to see why this was only twenty dollars," but she got right to work on things like locating the right parts and pre-assembling sections that would be added on later. It was actually kind of fun as we watched the pieces come together with cunning precision, not realizing how they were going to work until they snapped (and were then screwed) into place. The little microwave, the little dishwasher racks, the little knobs and switches, the little stove burners that light up, the refrigerator with its even littler ice dispenser on the front. At some point we realized that M. Small's kitchen is nicer than ours. One day, when we're much richer and it's time to remodel our entire kitchen, we're just going to show this toy kitchen to a contractor and say, "Do this, but bigger. And with granite counters."

We were in a surprisingly good mood by the time we finished affixing parts XXXXXXXXXX-1 through XXXXXXXXXX-7 (the decals), and it was only 11:15. All that remained was to inflate the giant toy in the basement, which, since we'd gone to buy an electric pump that very day ("just in case we get visitors who want to sleep on the airbed," we told M. Small), went quickly as well.

And then Trash went to wake up M. Small.

I was vaguely aware that this was how Trash and her siblings had experienced Christmas when they were little, but I didn't know M. Small was going to. Christmases were always a little weird in my house, because we always left home a few days before the actual day to visit relatives. Yet somehow Santa was always able to juggle his schedule -- during crunch time, no less -- to visit our house at a time that was convenient for us, coinciding with a short drive around the neighborhood with our dad while mom stayed home for some reason. But apparently Trash and her siblings were awoken after midnight on Christmas Eve, sometimes even getting a sighting of Santa himself before opening their gifts and returning to bed around two-ish.

So Trash went upstairs and I could hear her on the monitor, awakening him with the news that Santa had come. I heard her pointing out the tray of mostly-eaten cookies in the hallway. If M. Small made a groggy comment about Trash's cookie-breath, I didn't hear it.

He always looks smaller somehow when he's sleeping, and when Trash carried him downstairs, he was looking considerably less than full size. Upon arriving in the living room, he took one look at the wrapped and unwrapped bounty spread out before him and said, "I don't like it."

That wasn't what he meant, of course; he just wanted to go back to bed. So he did. But the next morning, as he was getting out of bed, he asked, "Is the kitchen still there? Is the plane still there?" They were, of course, and he played with it all. Even the stuff we were kind of hoping he'd forget about so we could put it away for a more boring day in the future. And of course the remote-control car was greeted like an old friend.

So now I guess it's time to start shopping for next year.

posted by M. Giant 9:52 PM 4 comments


By any chance at all was that kitchen a Step Two product? If so, my brother feels your pain as he was the one to assemble Jamie's on Christmas Eve.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 28, 2007 at 5:45 AM  

My father's family had a tradition that Santa brought the Christmas tree, too. He insisted on keeping that going when my sister and I were small- we'd wake up Christmas morning and there would be the tree and tons of presents. My mom put a stop to that in a few years, though- assembling gifts for two kids PLUS the tree was just too much on Christmas Eve.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 28, 2007 at 10:32 AM  

When he's through playing with that kitchen - if it survives well - you should sell it on eBay, preassembled, for like four times the price. Because I would pay a lot not to have to assemble something like that.

I'm glad he had such a happy Christmas morning.

By Blogger Unknown, at December 29, 2007 at 7:36 AM  

The mister and I thankfully decided to put the toys together on the night of the 23rd, because our daughter's parking garage/racetrack took an hour and a half to assemble...plus there were decals. I think it was made by the same company as M. Small's kitchen. (And how awesome is it that your boy got a kitchen and my girl got a garage? :) )

By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 29, 2007 at 12:47 PM  

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