Every Christmas as an adult I am reminded of a favorite gift I received as a young boy. My gift request was an Erector Set, a toy construction system consisting of various metal beams with hole for assembly using nuts and bolts. I wanted the premium version with its myriad of pulleys, gears and wheels, and a small electric motor.
The gift had been wrapped for several days, sitting under the Christmas tree. Every time I passed by, it felt like it was calling my name. When no one was watching I would shake the gift. I thought it felt heavy enough to be the metal construction set. I was certain I could hear the jiggle of nuts and bolts. I was convinced I was going to receive the Erector Set.
I begged my parents to let me open the gift early. The answer was always NO! That was the only gift I was receiving that year. If opened early, there would be nothing to open on Christmas morning.
Every Christmas Eve we would go to my grandparents’ house for the ‘Festa dei sette pesci’ … the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional fasting meal where meats were not served. My parents said I could open the gift when we returned from my grandparents. I should have stopped there. I didn’t.
I was willing to sacrifice the cod, clams, mussels and calamari. Forget the scallops, fried smelts, and pasta with seafood. I pushed one more time to open the gift. My parents finally acquiesced. They were apparently tired of hearing from their pushy son. I sacrificed the meal of seven fishes and opened the gift.
It was the best dream gift I had ever received, and I immediately began skimming through the instructions to pick my first project. By the time my parents came home, I had constructed a Ferris wheel. Even they were impressed. “Maybe someday you’ll own a carnival,” my father had said.
Well, I never ended up owning a carnival, nor did I have any desire to own one! But to this day, it still begged the question: Did my preference for childhood toys predict my future? Sort of, but not exactly.
I ended up with three vocations in life: engineer, minister, writer.
Certainly, the Erector Set forecasted my engineering side. The toy had little to do with my minister side which is more the call of God, and my childhood experiences always manage to weave themselves into my writing. So two out of three is not bad.
Oh, there’s one more thing. I love assembling Ikea furniture! It’s not a whole lot different than an Erector Set.