Here’s hoping your gifts are still in one piece

I hope the toys you got for Christmas lasted longer than the ones we gave my kids when they were younger. Some years, I wondered why we even bothered.

When my oldest son was three, I was glad I didn’t give him a bike for Christmas. The first bike I had got taken apart and reassembled at least a hundred times before it just wouldn’t go back together. It never went back together quite the way it came apart. I always had at least one piece left over. When I could remember where I put the spare parts, sometimes I’d get one or two of ‘em back on the bike later, but the extra piece pile never disappeared completely.

I did a little better when I got my first shotgun. When I stripped it down to give it a thorough cleaning, I make sure all the parts went back where they came from. It took a while, but I got it. My dad was wise enough to caution me against trying to do a full-service cleaning until the bird season was over. I got it back in one piece in time for the grouse season, but it was close.

I realize now all that was just practice for being a father. When Colby was three, he wanted a Slinky Dog for Christmas. One of those toy dogs with a Slinky for the body. It’s all he could talk about. Whenever anyone mentioned Christmas, he’d go on and on about the Slinky Dog he just knew he’d be getting.

The anticipation started about the beginning of October. For three straight months, he asked daily when he could have his Slinky Dog. Sometimes he asked five or six times a day. As the end of December got closer, he asked five or six times an hour.

Finally, on Christmas morning, he found his Slinky Dog under the tree. He was so proud to be a dog owner he could barely sit still. He took it in the truck with him. He tucked it under his covers at night.

And then he broke it. Snapped the string that kept the slinky from stretching too far. So I had the wonderful task of trying to put it back together.

Like my early experiences with a bike, I failed miserably. I went to Walmart and just bought him a new one.

It’s a good thing he was much older before we gave him a bike or a shotgun.