The Nightmare Before Christmas…

Okay, it was actually the Nightmare before Epiphany, but that’s not nearly such an obvious Tim Burton homage.

My wife is Puerto Rican, so Epiphany, or 3 Kings Day is a big deal.  In fact, as far as presents go, it’s as big, or bigger than Santa and Christmas.  This is my third round of Christmas/Epiphany as a Dad, and the first where my daughter was old enough to have a handle on what was going on.  As a result, I have officially learned some valuable lessons that I’d like to share with you all in the hope that I can spare you some pain and anguish…

This lesson is brought to you by the Play Wonder Mini Market Set.  At about 9pm on the day before Epiphany, we were busy wrapping presents.  The market comes flat-pack in a box about the size of two shoeboxes, so some assembly was obviously required.  Having learned some lessons from Christmas (see below) I decided to assemble it before wrapping it.

Lest you think I’m some kind of neophyte with assemble it yourself stuff, let me establish my credentials.  I’ve renovated two houses, which included installing two full kitchens and re-doing numerous bathrooms.  I’ve also assembled many many many sets of shelves and other Ikea-like works.

But even I was aghast at the 32 pieces that fell out of the box, 99 if you include all the fasteners.  And I’m not even counting the 20-odd pieces of play food that the thing comes with.

The instructions have the interesting habit of describing every step along with showing a picture.  But unfortunately (or maybe deliberately) every so often the description misses a key step.  While the picture may kind of show that M must be in place before you attach C, D, E, G and H to A, it doesn’t actually tell you that.  All in all, a very relaxing way to spend the evening with your spouse…

In the end, it took me 2 and a half HOURS to build this thing!  I think real markets are assembled in less time… 

With the New Year and all, I’m still in my happy place.  So I’ll share some suggestions learned from my mini-market-induced trauma and other toddler-present-related complications…

  1. Always always always pre-assemble.  Two and a half hours to assemble Barbie’s House of Wonderment in the days before the event will pale in comparison to the amount of time it will take with an active daddy-is-it-ready-yet toddler at your side.
  2. Don’t just assemble, unpack.  Those wire-twisty-strap things that all toys are packaged with are a serious impediment to a toddler’s enjoyment.  Get them out before you wrap the gifts.  While you’re at it, put the batteries in too — you’ll never have a Philips screwdriver handy on the big day for the stupid screw-on battery cover.
  3. If, god forbid, whatever you’ve bought makes a noise or otherwise does things, you might want to test it too.  "Why doesn’t magic goldfish swim, Daddy?", "He’s resting, sweetpea".  This goes double for anything with a pulse!
  4. Last but not least, have a passing familiarity with whatever "it" is.  There’s nothing worse than not being able to "make it go" at the right time.

Four little steps to holiday happiness…  And that concludes any and all holiday related posts from me.  Now back to our regular scheduled programming…