Assembling Happiness

The Christmas Season brings excitement for kids of all ages and a growing anxiety for all fathers. Fathers will be required to put up Christmas trees and lights as well as endure countless trips to toy stores, clothing venues and Santa's Village plus lugging endless armloads of presents to put under the tree.

His kids will become unbearable as their anticipation grows to the point of breaking. In order to maintain some semblance of household order, even the most normal, calm, well behaved children suddenly must be reminded often of Santa's words about “naughty or nice.”

The biggest fear any dad must face, however, during this season is the knowledge that any present opened on Christmas Day will require expert-level assembling skills for extremely anxious children. Luckily, any seven-year-old can connect a computer, stereo or program a television better than an adult, so that one is covered.

That leaves “Dad” with the rest of the items requiring assembly and their menagerie of different size screws, nuts, bolts, snap caps, decals and other tiny items and all needing different size tools which are often included, but subsequently “lost” in the Christmas excitement.

Why is it so easy to lose parts? Just last week I purchased a small gas grill. It took two trips to “the Wal-Mart” as I didn't read the directions on the box and ended up with a charcoal grill the first time. Finally, correct box in hand, I cleaned off the picnic table to have a safe, large workplace to assemble it. The tiny closed cracks in the table top suddenly opened up and swallowed several screws but being an experienced assembler, I was unfazed and plowed ahead.

My box of extra parts from previous projects came in handy and I was soon grilling my way to happiness. That's one good reason to not be upset should you have a few parts left over from your next project. That way, you have some for the NEXT item you buy and lose parts.

After this experience, I began to ponder just how much we buy that requires assembly. Huge container ships filled with boxes arrive daily on our shores filled with millions of boxes of items needing to be put together by someone. Shipping them in this manner saves a lot in shipping thereby saving us money. This savings allows us to buy even more stuff while chasing the American dream of having it all before we die.

This is not limited to cheap goods but a wide gamut of things we purchase. The last two RV's I bought new needed small items installed like towel racks and paper roll holders so it’s up to me to do that or pay to have it done.

Now, as every man will tell you, whether assembling a grill, an RV, a toy, bike or Barbie village, the meaning of true happiness is to complete it without leftover parts. Getting the little pony decals on the pink horse instead of the G.I. Joe jeep is also paramount to happiness to a six-year-old so please follow the directions. That is, if you can find them and truly only as a last resort because, after all, you are a man.

I have noticed that a lot of the stores offered already assembled items. So you can get a big gas grill or bicycle off the floor if you don't mind a few dings or dents from careless shoppers and realize a few parts may be missing.

But, I say, what’s the fun in doing that?

It is just another sign of the metro-nazation of America and prevents the growth to manhood by listening to the cussing, losing of parts and eventual conquering a grueling task by the dads.

Now that I think about it, I’m certain that future heavy equipment operators, mechanics, welders and dam builders were born on many of a Christmas morning while their Dad lost parts and improvised to make things works. These guys are more familiar with assembling things and don't freak out when a part or two is missing.

So the next time you have your car worked on, see a gas line installed or a dam being built, remember, these same men are the ones you saw turn to drink and lose their salvation assembling toys just last Christmas.

But after all, what’s a few lost parts among friends?

My friend Roy from South Fork called me last week and related good results in the area lakes. He said the Brook Trout are ready to spawn and reported good results on salmon eggs and rapalas fished close to the shore. So get out there and get a pan full before it ices up.