Two days after and the excitement of Christmas is slowly receding in our home. With three children, ages 8, 5, and 2, the enthuasism was at an all time high leading up to the 25th. The kids were so excited that they started to wrap up their own toys and gift them to one another a week before. A sweet gesture that helped us, as parents, buy time until Christmas morning.
The night before, we set out some homemade cookies, carrots, and almond milk (hey…he could be lactose intolerant!). We hung our stockings on the mantle. Maggie fell asleep at 7:30 (truly, she had no idea what was happening…she was simply feeding off her siblings excitement). Caleigh and Blake decided to sleep on the floor, together, in Blake’s room. Wrapped up in their sleeping bags, they whispered in anticipation each time they clicked on the button of the Santa Tracker app on the iPad. Finally, FINALLY, they drifted off to sleep around 8:30.
Then the real fun began. We quietly went to work and pulled from the garage that which was to be wow factor this Christmas. A month ago, Caleigh and Blake decided they wanted desks for Christmas. A strange request, yes, but one that thanks to buying an IKEA kitchen for our cottage earlier this year, could be purchased on gift cards.
For anyone who has attempted to put together IKEA furniture knows, it’s a labour of
love patience. We opened a bottle of wine and emptied the bags of screws, dowels, caps, and allen keys onto the floor. We knew instantly that what we had hoped would be a two hour project would be much, much longer. We start to refer to ourselves as “Team Ryan” to boost the enthusiasm.
Blake’s corner desk was first. Halfway through putting it together (and far beyond a point where we could take it apart), we started to wonder whether or not it would fit through his bedroom door. Manhandling it up our staircase, that fear was confirmed when we reached his room. Never mind the obvious detail of him and his sister asleep on the floor. Shit.
Desk #1 left in the hallway, we go back downstairs for desk #2 which will now be assembled in Caleigh’s room…right next door to our sleeping children. You would never guess how loud IKEA furniture construction can be until you’re attempting to put it together at 10:00PM on the 24th of December without ruining the magic of Christmas for your children. Caleigh’s went together fairly easily and we were happy dancing our way around her room (at 10:50) when we realized that the box on the floor stated “Box 1 of 2”. Deep breath. Team Ryan went from happy dancing to nearly coming apart at the seams.
The second box, we discovered, was just the top shelving of Caleigh’s desk so in our wine buzz, we decided that it wouldn’t entirely ruin the magic if we put a bow on it and left it under the tree…a present for Mom and Dad to finish putting together on Christmas morning. Lucky us. Another glass of wine is poured…and I’m raiding the Christmas cookie plate in the kitchen.
We regrouped and returned to Blake’s desk sitting in the hallway. The first challenge was to get Caleigh and Blake out of his room so that we could finish assembling it in there. I carried Caleigh into her room and held my breath as she lifted up her head off of my shoulder and sleepily asked “Has Santa come yet?”. “No, not yet, sweetie. Back to sleep.” as I stood beside her new desk, praying she wouldn’t wake up and see her gift from the Big Guy who wasn’t there yet. Tom took Blake down to our bed and let him sleep there until we were done.
Now to get the damn desk through his door. We considered taking the door off the hinges but knew it would be loud as a hammer would be needed. And quite frankly, it seemed like a lot of work and we were really getting tired. We tried to bring it through upright, upside down, on it’s side, and on eight different angles. Nothing was working. Tom thought he knew how to do it. I thought I knew the way to do it. It’s possible that we both snapped at one another a couple of times when the other’s ideas didn’t work. “I knew that wouldn’t work…” “I told you it wouldn’t go in that way” The final decision was to partly disassemble the desk. Has anyone ever tried to disassemble an IKEA desk? Those dowels don’t like to be removed. And in the case of this desk, it would clear the doorframe if the damn dowels were removed. (Time check 11:15PM)
Twenty minutes later, the desk is in the room and ready to be finished. We’re pushing towards midnight. And we are fully expecting an early wake up call with three giddy children. I had long decided that third glass of wine was a bad idea. My level of patience was waning. We place the desk in the corner we intended it to go in and realize that the top part of his desk is blocking about 3 inches of the only window in Blake’s room. I close my eyes and sigh.
“It will be fine.” says Tom
“It won’t.” I reply.
“It will.” He says tersely.
“Nope, no. Sorry. I know this sucks. But we have to shuffle his furniture around. It’s Christmas.” I put emphasis on the word Christmas as if my conviction will somehow soften his response. Not so much. If looks could kill, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been opening gifts with my kids the next morning. But, being the awesome husband he is, we move the furniture around to make room for the desk in the opposite corner to where it was supposed to be. I was actually quite pleased with the new arrangement but thought better of rubbing that in as Tom picked up four more dowels to put together the desk drawers.
Finally, finally…the last screw was tightened. Time check 12:23. There’s nothing like taking four hours to assemble IKEA desks for your kids and letting Santa take the credit. We place Blake back in his bed. We quickly fill the stockings and place the other gifts under the tree. Lights turned off, we collapse into bed at 12:45.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m awakened by the sound of footsteps running up the hall. Blake crawls into bed between us, wide awake, and exclaims that there is a new desk in his room! “Is it time to open the presents yet?” I may have grunted something inaudible. Tom rolled over. It took an hour but he finally got back to sleep. And the first gift to Tom and I was that each of our children slept long past the anticipated 5AM wake up call.
The look on their faces (kind of) made the night worth it. The complete bewilderment that Santa or his elves were in their rooms while they were asleep was special. Of course, the desks needed to be completed and eventually we got around to it. I may curse IKEA and swear up and down that I will never EVER buy from there again. But I already know that I forgot to buy chairs to go with the desks and a coat stand that we never used needs to be returned. Damn you, IKEA, land of easy-to-purchase-not-easy-to-put-together furniture. We will meet again.