I can remember so many Christmas eves, back when I had a son who required things like Hot Wheels garages and Rescue Heroes Command Centers, I stayed up late into the night making all those little pieces fit together, peeling and sticking all those decals, and doing the work of a hundred elves without the figgy pudding breaks. I worked until my eyes crossed and my fingers were worked past their useful function. It was all for the glee that would come bubbling up into the face of that little boy and the sight of his brand new toy.
Then there was the time my friend and I spent an afternoon on the front lawn constructing the bright yellow riding front loader that same boy pedaled up and down the driveway and out onto the sidewalk in front of our house in what seemed to be endless loops. All of those toys were loved to the point of extinction. Pieces of them still float around our basement, too dear to be part of a landfill but not important enough to be moved into any permanent rotation or display in the real world. This dismays my wife, who has wondered aloud on many occasions just how much plastic we carted into this house and how much of it still has useful purpose. None of it is disposable. But short of having a garage sale, which seems somehow unthinkable for a family that periodically prides itself on stuff, there is little to be done about the wretched refuse that used to fill toy boxes way back when.
And we've got one of those still, too. Toy box, that is.
Then there's the new bike. Way back a year and a half ago, when I was relieved of my commuter bike by evil twits who would steal a bicycle from the front hallway of a school, my wife did me the considerable favor of rushing out and buying me a new machine. This was hardly a replacement, but it was a place holder. It came to me all in one piece, but it never quite felt right. It could not live up to the glory that was the Raleigh C-40. It was serviceable. And boy did I service that thing. I spent a lot of time changing inner tubes, as this thing seemed to have a slow leak somewhere and I was always on the verge of pushing that lumpy nearly bike home on the rims.
Then, years after the first Valentine's Bike, came the replacement. This was a much fancier deal than the bargain bike. It had "components" and was made with "quality" in mind. It also required a good deal of assembly. Thankfully, years of bike riding and ownership put me in good stead when it came time to take it out of the box and piece it together. Handlebars, seat, brakes, wheels, all pushed into place and tightened with Allen and other wrenches. I felt oddly at home, building this vehicle and eagerly anticipating my first ride. It was Christmas Eve all over again.
I just wish there were more decals to stick on.