This past Christmas I received a very unique and wonderful gift from my younger sister, Carmen. My sister gave me LEGO, but not just any LEGO; this was LEGO from my past. When I was growing up we had several different LEGO sets from the basic red blue and yellow sets to fancy castles. As a young boy I would spend hours in the front porch of my parent’s home building with LEGO. I would build and rebuild the specific sets, but I found myself spending most of my LEGO time exercising my imagination and creating my own structures and landscapes. As I grew older, I spent less and less time playing with LEGO. However, a tradition had come about in our house, quite organically, that occurred at Christmas time. It was at Christmas that myself, and my two sisters as well, would pull out the LEGO and rebuild the sets.
As I have said, we had several different sets, but my favourite sets were the space ones. I loved building those sets, but I also loved creating my own ships and bases using the pieces from the sets. The best pieces were the base pieces which were grey and had mounds and craters on them, and the scaffolding-like pillars that could be used as building supports or tail pieces for ships. Over the years pieces became lost, as LEGO is wont to do, and I would scavenge from other sets to compensate. When I left home, the LEGO stayed at my parents’ house. As the years passed I began to think about LEGO only in passing.
Now that I have two children of my own, LEGO is back in the house. My daughter, Abigail, was quick to pick up LEGO very early on and I am constantly amazed at what she is able to create at only six years of age. My son, Graeme, who is three, is beginning to discover LEGO as well; and I find now that I am rediscovering LEGO myself. In addition, one of the programmes we offer at the Children’s Library I work at is a weekly LEGO club, and I have had the pleasure of hosting this club several times since starting there a year and a half ago. With the reintroduction of LEGO into my life, imagine my delight as I opened my gift from Carmen and discovered all three of the space sets, the original sets, completely reconstructed. It seems my sister had picked up the sets from my parents, went through the instructions, which we still had, and by way of online sellers, purchased all the missing pieces for each set. It was a Christmas miracle!
A couple of days later, I set to work building my Space LEGO. I made it a point to include Abigail in the process, as she has clearly shown an interest and it was a perfect opportunity to share some quality time with her. As we worked on the sets I told my daughter about how I played with these very same LEGO when I was young. At the same time I was reminiscing to myself about the times I spent in my parents front porch. One specific memory that came back very strongly involved the space heater we used to have. My parent’s front porch, although enclosed, was quite drafty in the winter and so we had an electric space heater. I had the habit of sitting right up against that heater as I built with the LEGO on the floor. I would get so hot from the heater that my skin would get itchy and I would have to pull away periodically to cool my skin down. Then I would snuggle back up to the heater and continue building. I would spend so much time cross-legged on the floor that the circulation in my legs would get cut off. This meant that if I did have to change position, usually to get away from the heater, I would have to endure the pins and needles as circulation was suddenly restored to my limbs. Leaving a building session was usually painful and awkward as all hell as I would stumble around on legs that were completely numb, then sparkly, then filled with an agonising throb that would force me to freeze on the spot; even the slightest movement would cause a shock to go through my body as I waited for the flow of blood to normalise throughout my legs. These are the things that were going through my head as I was building LEGO with my daughter. Neat, huh? As we moved onto the space ship set (918) I came across a wing piece that had been chewed; this was most likely done by our first dog, Buddy. Buddy was an English Cocker Spaniel, and as I worked to fit this damaged piece into my ship I realised that this LEGO had once again brought me memories of my youth. I was unable to get the wing piece to fit properly; there had been too much damage; but as I looked at my ship I knew that I would always be able to find a particular joy in this busted piece of LEGO.
It didn’t take long at all for Abigail and I to complete all three sets. Funny, I seem to remember it taking longer when I was a kid. Even though it didn’t take long, it was a special moment to share with her, and I want to thank Carmen for helping to create that moment.
A few days ago my daughter and I were building LEGO together. I was, of course, sitting cross-legged. As my wife called from upstairs to let us know that supper was ready, I knew as soon as I started to move that it would be a perilous journey up the stairs.