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I am a world-class procrastinator. World-class! What’s worse is that I married a man whose procrastination rivaled mine. Never was the trait more irritating than during the Christmas season.

Every year I insisted on saving a little money and buying products for our daughters that required assembly; every year I regretted it. I would always promise to check the tiny plastic-wrapped screws and bolts and hex nuts early to make sure all were present and accounted for. Unfortunately, I procrastinated until Christmas Eve after the girls went to bed. Did you know that once an acorn nut has been snapped over a bolt head it will not come off?

Two particular Christmases come to mind…1974 and 1977. Disasters, both, but how was I to know that cats could swallow hex nuts with no ill effect?

In 1974 we decided to buy Melanie a tricycle for Christmas. Once Melanie was bundled off to bed, we dragged out the box containing a million tiny parts and pieces that would be transformed into a shiny, red tricycle. My plan was for me to read the instructions aloud as he performed each task. Work progressed and the vehicle began to take shape. Curved chrome tubes slipped into each other perfectly at first, and the bolts and nuts even matched up without any trouble. The seat attached neatly and was easily secured.

After forty-five painstaking minutes, he held up the almost-finished tricycle and said, “Something’s not right here. Are you sure you’ve read those instructions correctly?”

Well, duh. I’m an English teacher; if I don’t know how to do anything else, I know how to read!

“Well, something is wrong. Where are the instructions for the front wheel assembly?”

As it happened, I had skipped a whole page of the instructions . . . the one with the front wheel assembly steps. That’s when we discovered that acorn nuts do NOT snap off the same way they snap on.

In 1977 I could not resist the “modular kitchen” for the girls. There was a refrigerator; there was a stove; there was a pantry; there was even a sink with a faucet. The sign read, “Easy assembly.” Yeah, right.

By three o’clock Christmas morning, two of the four components had been assembled. It was at that point that we discovered a bag of hex nuts needed to complete the third section was missing. I eventually found some of them scattered around the room and the cat chewing on the plastic bag. He tossed the cat out the back door, an argument ensued after which I stomped off to bed leaving him to clean up the mess, but not before I wrote a note from Santa on the cute little chalkboard that came pre-assembled.

Dear Melanie and Maureen,
Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!
Please forgive me for leaving your kitchen
unfinished. Several of the elves had chicken pox
this year so they were unable to complete the assembly.

~~~Your father has happily agreed to finish the job for us.~~~

S. Claus

Rudolph thinks your mother
makes delicious cookies.

If memory serves, their father never finished the kitchen. Of course, neither did I, but Santa never promised I would, did he?


A Mississippi Delta native, Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson teaches English to eager eighth graders in Wayne County, North Carolina. She is the esteemed Associate Editor at usadeepsouth.com. Other works by Lonnye Sue can be found at asouthernjournal.com, queenpower.com and in the Mississippi magazine, Tombigbee Country.

Three highly active grandchildren and a neurotic dachshund keep Lonnye Sue busy, but she is sporadically working on her first novel and a humorous cookbook.

Contact Lonnye Sue at deltamiss2002@yahoo.com


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