LAKEMONT SUBDIVISION – Tis the Christmas season for the celebrants for a certain band of brothers who harken to the words, “Some assembly required.”
For some, the yuletide season begins Thanksgiving weekend with pulling out all the Christmas decorations and putting up the lights around the house.
And of course for merchants and shopping malls it begins the day after Labor Day these days.
For the rest of us, the Christmas season has many rituals that may signal the true start of the holiday season. For some it is the ritual of picking out just the right Christmas tree to take home and decorate. For others it may be sending out handwritten cards to friends and family.
For one dedicated group of guys, the Christmas season begins on the first Friday in December with what has become a now-27-year ritual known as Bunch of Guys Sitting Around Drinking Beer and Putting Together Toys.
From all across North Fulton and beyond they come. These sturdy lads each year take the pledge to assemble one wheeled toy to be delivered to the Greater North Fulton Charities to brighten one child’s Christmas morning.
In return, we have a reunion of sorts, for many of the faces have become quite familiar. I was not an original inductee into the brotherhood, but I did receive my 20-year pin not too long ago, and I am considered one of the elder statesmen of the group – well, one of the elders anyway.
It was begun all those years ago by two Roswell attorneys, Rich O’Donnell and Steve Dorvee, who decided to sponsor a party that required participants to come with a toy (preferably with wheels) and assemble it during the party.
Messrs. O’Donnell and Dorvee in turn would provide food and beer and other accoutrements for the mutual conviviality of all.
This “some assembly required” party largely consists of the old hands standing around kibitzing as the newbies struggle with tools or the directions (one memorable soul had directions in five languages – only English was missing).
My “rookie” year is still remembered among the old hands as I struggled with only a short-handled screwdriver to piece together a large wooden airplane with wheels, wings, propeller all devised by Satan.
I was mercifully rescued by a couple of guys who finished it because they wanted to get home before dawn.
Once assembled, all of this rolling stock winds up in the hands of the Greater North Fulton Charities and the Roswell Child Development. These worthy organizations use the presents to bring cheer to children who otherwise would not have much to cheer about Christmas Day,
So each year, the true meaning of Christmas is brought home to me again. For me the Christmas season begins that first Friday in December.
This holiday is about giving, not receiving. No gift I receive under the tree gives me quite the inner glow that the one child’s bicycle I bring each year to Casa O’Donnell, the Squire of Lakemont Court.
I know at least one kid is going to get that thrill I received when I saw my first bike that one Christmas morning that is now dim in the mist of time.
None of us mention any of this during the party, of course. We talk about the usual stuff guys do in such informal occasions – football, baseball, politics – and then repeat.
I don’t know if it is simply a product of getting older, but I find it particularly satisfying when I can find a gift that will truly mean something to the recipient. You know, not just another sweater or gadget in among the pile of sweaters and gadgets we always give.
Maybe it’s an old photograph of a loved one you found and put in a new frame. Perhaps it’s some other forgotten memento from the past that you give to someone who will appreciate it.
I guess I lean toward the sentimental, but isn’t that the dominant emotion during Christmas? I think the best presents can’t be bought at Macy’s.
At this time of year, aren’t we usually busy trying to recapture what we loved best about the Christmases past? That was what Dickens tapped into with his “Christmas Carol.”
So each time the first Friday in December rolls around, I content myself with creating at least one special Christmas memory for a child I’ll never see or know. And that gives me a warm feeling right down to my mistletoes.