Vivian's Third Christmas Tree


Happy first Sunday in Advent, everybody. We’re a bit snowed in, but that didn’t matter, as we celebrated by putting up the Christmas tree. Erin and I took a lot of photographs, and you can see more of them on our Flickr account.

Technically, this is Vivian’s third Christmas, but I’m betting that this will be the first Christmas that she’ll remember. Her first Christmas came when she was six weeks old, and it’s remarkable how portable she was at the time (we were able to haul her around a couple of thousand miles, through airports and on long car journeys without too much complaint). Last year, we stayed here for Christmas, and while we had a tree and everything, I don’t think the lesson took.

When do children realize that Christmas is coming? When do they remember Christmas as something to look forward to? Somewhere, sometime, there’s that first Christmas where their reaction is: you guys do all this stuff for me? Wow! That’s great!.


We went to Ikea yesterday, picking up clothes storage frames and bins for a major redecoration of Vivian’s room (truthfully, moving her into a larger bedroom, hopefully by Christmas). And I have to say, you really start to appreciate the allure of an SUV when you try to fit those long cardboard boxes containing lengths of particle board that you yourself are supposed to put together armed only with an allen key. Especially when your car is a little Hyundai with a baby seat in the back. And especially in the face of an oncoming snowstorm.

Ten minutes of putting together a three-dimensional puzzle designed to fit in a trunk and half of the backseat of your car, with the benefit of no pictures or instruction manual, you’re prepared to canonize Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Hummer. Fifteen minutes of this highly entertaining exercise (for anybody watching with a video camera), and you’re thinking about grabbing up a chainsaw and going to look for David Suzuki.

Twenty minutes in, I broke down and paid $89 for Ikea’s delivery service.

Ikea has quite a good thing going. Apparently their founder is richer than Bill Gates and we don’t mind. And their stores throughout southern Ontario, especially the one in Burlington, is a license to print money. When I was there and they asked me for my postal code, I officially told the cashier that I wanted a store in Kitchener, and she told me that I was the fifth person to say so that day.

You go to an Ikea, and you can enjoy yourself without even buying anything. Just people watching is a wonderful exercise; you see new families looking to furnish their first homes, or their baby’s first room, or young college kids collecting stuff for their first apartment. The air is awash with creativity and potential, but then comes the moment when you have to collect the stuff from their self-serve warehouse, and then load the stuff into the car. Plenty of moments of comedy are to be had, here, and I can’t help but wonder if they’re being a little coy with their advertisements of, “please, let us deliver for you.”

Even delivery within the Burlington city limits is a hefty $59. And if anybody from Simcoe or Fort Erie wants to avoid driving down a highway with their trunk lid banging down on their unassembled Billy bookcases, they pay a handsome $139. At $89, the amount we spent was just barely enough that this made the delivery seem like some sort of a deal. Besides, it was cold.

But could this be why we don’t have an Ikea store in Kitchener? Why they encourage you to put these things together with only an allen wrench (while at the same time advertising links to contractors who could put these things for you using power tools)? Is Ikea a gateway drug?

Suddenly the similarities between Ikea and Microsoft seem a little more pronounced. And yet, we still love Ikea so. Strange, isn’t it?

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