12 Plays of Christmas: Some Assembly Required

In the midst of a tantrum burst of emotions, Robson stomped into his room and slammed the door shut so hard the picture on the wall to the right came free of its hook and crashed to the floor. It was one of his favorites, a print of a painting depicting a young boy and girl building a snowman with the caption “Snowmen fall from heaven…unassembled” across the bottom. The glass and the frame were cracked and now it was ruined just like everything else in his life!

He kicked over his wastebasket, the plastic one with Captain America and all the other Marvel’s Avengers on it, and discarded candy wrappers and other bits of broken junk he no longer had a use for skittered across the floor which only made him angrier.

He threw his head back and screamed, “Why can’t you give me what I want? Why can’t I eat what I want to eat and watch what I want to watch on tv? I’m sick of this stupid house and I hate you both! I can’t wait until I get older and leave here forever!”

And the rage kept spilling out until he had expelled all the air from his lungs and the rant became a coughing fit, but he didn’t care. He pulled in a deep breath of new air and let out a frustrated and sustained, guttural bellow so loud it vibrated his eyeballs.

When the red mist of fury lifted from his vision and he was left with nothing more than the fatigue of ages pressing down upon him, he heard a soft rap on his door. He had no desire to respond, so he didn’t but the door handle turned slowly and his father pushed his head inside.

“Got it all out of your system?” his father asked with no trace of anything being out of the ordinary.

Robson didn’t answer, he couldn’t answer, the fatigue wouldn’t allow it. But as his father entered the room and surveyed the damage, the young boy stood firm, and let his breath out through his nostrils in a defiant hiss.

His father picked up the cracked picture frame and examined it as he walked past Robson to sit on the bed. He patted the full-size mattress, indicating for his son to have a seat but the boy didn’t move. “Come on, it’s not going to kill you to sit next to me. I just need you to listen to what I have to say and then I’ll leave you alone to continue being mad at us.”

Reluctantly, Robson dragged his feet as if the gravity inside the room had suddenly increased tenfold and plopped onto the bed as far away from his father as he could manage.

“A shame about this picture,” his father said. “Your mother and I bought this for you because it was the first thing you actually asked for. You pleaded with us and made your case so succinctly that we had no choice. At the time, we didn’t have the money to spare but sometimes the happiness of the people you love is worth more than any dollar amount.

“The reason I’m bringing this up is to talk to you about sacrifices. You’re too young to fully understand this but everybody in the world has to make them, no matter how young or old they are. And you may think the things we ask or tell you to do are unfair but that’s only because you don’t see the bigger picture and there’s no real reason you should at your age. Our job as parents is to take care of the big important stuff so that you can live the easiest life we can manage to give you. But it’s also our duty to prepare you for what’s to come and we planned to wait until you were a little older, but since you’re so eager to grow up, let me tell you what life holds in store for you.

“As you get older, you’re going to learn that even the people who were never supposed to let you down probably will and someone who has the same opinion about you…you will let them down, as well. That includes the three of us, champ. We’re eventually going to let each other down.

“You’re going to fall in love one day and your heart will get broken and it will probably happen more than once, and it will get harder to love with each passing break. And most likely you’ll break a few hearts yourself, even if you remember how it felt when yours was broken and try to avoid doing it to someone else, it’s still going to happen.

“Despite your best intentions, you’ll fight with your best friends, blame a new love for things an old one did, complain because time is passing too fast, wish you had your childhood to do over again to get things right, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love, which includes me and your mother.”

Robson sat motionless, staring at the cracked glass and broken frame, unable to meet his father’s gaze because he felt the sting of tears in his eyes. “What do I do?” he said in a small voice.

“What do you mean?”

“To stop all the bad things from happening. What do I do?”

“Well, you can start by not taking the good things and times for granted, but do take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt…because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back. But before any of that, you should go apologize to your mother, she was really upset by some of the things you said.”

Robson hopped off the bed, turned his back to his father and wiped the tears from his eyes with his shirt sleeve. He walked to the door with a purpose, but stopped at the door jamb and said over his shoulder, “I don’t really hate you, you know.”

“I know, kiddo,” his father smiled. “Now, go give your mother a great big hug and kiss and shag your butt back in here so we can straighten this room up.”

The little boy took off like a shot out of the room yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! I’m sorry!”

His father stood up, righted the wastebasket and carefully tilted the broken glass into the little plastic bucket. He caught sight of the caption on the picture and thought, Snowmen aren’t the only things that require assembly, sometimes family bonds do too.

32 responses to “12 Plays of Christmas: Some Assembly Required

  1. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ~ Mark Twain

    Almost everyone has experienced this quote at some time in life. Excellent share! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This one resonated with me because I believe the most important job as a parent is to raise self-sufficient children! Strong enough to be able to go out into the world and survive. This has been one of my main goals in life and will be well into the future.

    You’ve created another absolute gem, Rhyan. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The lesson learned here is you don’t have to see eye to eye with your parents all the time, but sometimes they know better than you, so shut up, listen up and learn up 😬.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My father who passed away last year, rest his soul, taught me to do chores at home. Laundry, dishwashing, cooking, house cleaning, taking care of my younger brothers. Now my wife is so happy she married me because I do our own chores without complaining, Thanks Pops. Miss you.

    Great story, dude!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How I wish I’d had a good father. I’m glad Robson had a cool dad who treated him respectfully and talked to him. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have parents who care. Parents can set their children up to succeed or fail, lift them up or quash their souls. Some fathers realize their horrendous mistakes later in life and do whatever is needed to mend the fractures between them and their kids. Some never do, and then there’s no resolution, no healing, no closure. This tale is beautiful. There’s love in Robson’s home, and while he may toss a tantrum now and then, I think he knows his parents care for him. That’s the most important thing of all. Robson’s a lucky kid. Thanks, Rhyan, for a touching story of what a good father can be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard when parents aren’t able to live up to the responsibilities of the nurturing role. To not only take care of children’s basic needs, such as food, medical care, shelter, clothing, etc., but to give love, attention, understanding, acceptance, time, and support, as well.

      My heart goes out to you, my friend.

      Cheers for the read and sharing a bit of yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good job. The trick to exposition of parental wisdom is to stay on the narrow path and not veer off into the authorial pitfalls of maudlin or saccharin awaiting on either side. My dad would call it the lecture where every day he had to walk through 20 miles of knee-deep snow to and from school, uphill both ways, in cardboard shoes with holes in them. Now. Go mow the yard and quit bitchin’ because every minute you waste complaining is a minute you’re not in the car I paid for with your girlfriend. True.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Phil, I remember those, “You kids don’t realize how good you’ve got it” speeches well. I don’t think I’ve ever rolled my eyes so hard in my life during those constant retellings of “In my day” embellishments (behind my parents’ back, of course. An eye roll was a one-way ticket to a head slap back then). Cheers for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My dad was being facetious, I think down to his dad and all the “American Hero” chopping firewood in the dark before walking to school in blizzards, pioneering hardship stuff we were sold as kids.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read a story as heartwarming as this for the longest time. You should have a million followers by now.
    I’ve bookmarked this to read it again and again and again. I was at this boy’s stage, not so long back, so I could relate to it very well. Now in my late teens, the hormones of the early teens are so much relatable and I can empathise with them easily. The father’s wisdom is remarkable. Felt like I was the one being talked to. ‘’Every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back’’ wow! And the last line is just fantastic. Your immaculate narration, clever storytelling and brilliance- Chef’s kiss!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Extremely kind of you, Sam. As imperfect human beings, we all need reminders at times, breadcrumbs of advice to lead us back on the proper path.

      Unfortunately, we live in an age where the wisdom of elders isn’t taken as seriously as it once was. It’s become commonplace to dismiss these things with phrases like, “Okay, Boomer.” And it’s only in hindsight that sage advice is appreciated, after it’s far too late.

      And that’s not meant as a slight against youth (through your writings, you appear to be wiser than your years) for even so-called mature adults ignore or scoff at the percipience of older people who have gained their knowledge through experience. Who truly knows anything if we all feel we know best and are above being taught a lesson?

      I’ll stop now, before I go full tilt into a rant, and simply thank you to taking the time to read and comment.

      It’s greatly appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was honestly a wise “rant”. Not even a rant, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In Indian culture, respect towards elders is a very very integral part and in fact, we even take it to extremes, as we’re culturally inclined to.
        “Okay boomer” is a thoroughly ageist phrase 😤

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I think you’re out to rouse hearts and make eyes cry. This is really a warm and beautiful one, Rhyan. I think preparing children for the future is such an important responsibility. We all will face ups and downs and will have to pick ourselves when we’ve fallen down. You’ve really captured family relations in a realistic and positive way. Kids and adults need to find common ground. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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