There’s one Christmas that I’ll never forget. It didn’t happen when I was a boy, but rather when I was a man, a father of around27 or so.
At the time, through the course of the year, I tried to figure out what held the interest of my son’s imagination, and as usual for those several years that made up his childhood, it was very apparent that he absolutely loved Legos. I guess it was safe to say that this wasn’t a surprise, because I too was very fond of the little building blocks when I was a young boy.
Good toys know how to withstand the test of time, and this was one gift that couldn’t go wrong.
One afternoon while my wife and I were out shopping, I took a hard right and started wandering through the toy section of the store. I soon found myself smack dab in the middle of Lego heaven. One side of the aisle was completely packed with every kind of Lego package you could imagine. Knights and castles and dinosaurs and airplanes and cars and trucks and oh my, what’s this?
I reached out and pulled a rather large box from the shelf. The picture on the box clutched at my attention and didn’t let go.
“What’s that?” my wife spoke as she moved up along side me.
“What’s this?” I smiled as I spoke back. “Why it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
I flipped the box around in my arms, trying to take in all of the item that was available. It was a Lego bulldozer, and it contained about a million and a half pieces.
“You getting it for him?” My wife matched my stares towards the box.
I could only think of a one word response to her question. “Yes.”
Needless to say, the box followed us home that evening.
For the next couple weeks leading up to Christmas, I kept pulling the box out of the closet to have another look. The more I looked, the more the present felt like it should be mine, and not my 5 year old son’s. The tug of war had begun, but deep down I knew that as long as it was his gift, I could play with it as much as he did, I mean after all, we lived in the same house, right? The inner workings of an adult mind turned kid.
Well the days wound away, and Christmas inched closer and closer. Come Christmas Eve day, I worked my usual long day, but was transfixed with a spell directly from the North Pole. By the time I returned home that night, the master plan had been firmly planned and all I had to do was set the wheels of the season in motion.
Seven o’clock came, and our son dashed his footy pajamas up over the stairs. Bun, the stuffed rabbit with the long ears, helped my son and I say our prayers, as he usually did.
Fourteen giggles, seven smiles and a couple yawns later, my son closed his eyes to join in on a winter’s night full of dancing dreams. Twelve minutes after that I was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting and searching for signs that he was fast asleep.
Through the kitchen I ran in a flash, and bound into the living room with a thud and a crash. I scrambled into our bedroom, swung open the closet door, grabbed the Lego box and headed back into the living room.
“You’re not going to wrap that for him?” My wife came into the living room and watched me as I set up a TV tray beside my chair.
“No. I’m gonna put it together for him and set it under the tree.” I cleared a table beside my chair and set the box down onto it. Turning to her, I cocked my head sideways, “What?”
She smiled at me and turned towards the bedroom. “You sure you’re gonna be able to put that all together tonight?”
“Of course I can.” I smugly smiled as I sat down and pulled the TV tray up close to the chair.
The task had begun.
I started in on the bulldozer at seven thirty that Christmas Eve. Let me say that when I mentioned earlier that it had roughly a million and a half pieces, I wasn’t kidding, or so it seemed. Through the evening hours I went from the instructions manual, to the pieces in the box, to the pieces on the tray, to the pieces dancing around in my head, back to the manual. This went on throughout the evening, past midnight, until at roughly 3am the bulldozer was complete. The task was done, and so was I. My brain was fried, my nerves were shot, my hands were shaking and I felt too tired to sleep.
My wife had been fast asleep for a few hours, so I tried to be quiet as a Lego mouse as I crept into the bedroom and slipped under the covers.
I couldn’t get the pieces of blocks out of my head. Single blocks, double blocks, square ones, rectangle ones, pieces with angled tops, pieces with round tops, pieces with no tops, they all came at me, tumbling and spinning through my dreams. The dreams were restless, but they resembled sleep none the less.
“Dad?” Nudge, nudge.
“Daddy?” Shake, nudge.
I rolled over and tried prying my eyes open. “What? Who?” I tried to wake up, but everything was fuzzy and blurry, including my mind.
I could barely make out a smiling face staring at me, point blank.
“Can I get up to see what Santa brought?” He grabbed my shoulder and carefully shook it.
“What time is it?”
There was a pause. “It’s Christmas morning silly. It’s time to get up.”
I rubbed my eyes and looked over at the alarm clock beside me. It was 4:45am.
His mother rolled over to face him. “What time is it?”
Our son stepped back towards the door and shouted. “It’s Christmas Morning Mom! Are you guys gonna get up, or what?”
Fifteen days later I managed to pull myself up from my sleeping slumber, and the three of us made our way into the living room. With a flick of the light switch, the tree lit up and the room burst to life.
“Oh wow!” was all we heard for the next minute or so, as our son made his way around the tree and through the unwrapped gifts that Santa had set around the tree.
My wife and I sat down on the couch as he grabbed one gift, then another, hollering out with each one.
Moving around the tree, he came upon the bulldozer that I had tucked in against a couple wrapped gifts. “Oh man! Cool! Is this for me?”
He tried to pick it up, but it was too bulky for him, so I got up and quickly helped him set it out in the middle of the floor.
“That looks like a bulldozer!” My eyes grew wide as his as I watched him crawl up to the impressive piece of workmanship. “Be careful with it. I’m pretty sure that took Santa’s elves quite a while to build.”
He slowly started rolling it across the floor on its working rubber bulldozer tracks. I smiled and looked over at his mother, who was also smiling.
One of the coolest things about these ingenious building blocks is that as much fun as it is to build stuff, it’s just as much fun to tear them apart. Well, for a kid anyway.
Over the course of Christmas morning, every time I went into the living room, the bulldozer grew smaller and smaller, until it really didn’t resemble a bulldozer , but rather a large pile of mostly yellow blocks.
That was the beginning, and the end of the impressive earth moving device. The pile of yellow blocks did turn into many different things, but never what Santa had left under the tree on that unforgettable Christmas morning of 1987.
Being able to see the expressions of joy on his little face that December 25th morning was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. Sometimes the simplest gifts are the ones that find a way to stay with us the longest.