TWAS THE NIGHT before Christmas, when all through the house, two creatures were stirring, me and my spouse.

The stockings, half-knitted, were hung on a chair, because they'd unravel with just one small tear.

The children were roaming around the upstairs, hoping to catch good St. Nick, unawares.

And I, in my nightie, was racking my brain, over "assembly required" on a fighter airplane.

When from the garage there arose such a clatter, I leapt from my task to see what was the matter.

Away through the storm door I flew like a flash, knocked over the trash can and spilled all the trash.

The light, on the face of my crestfallen mate, revealed his frustration, "It's this darn ice skate!"

"I can't get the blades to attach to the boot. If this doesn't work soon, the point will be moot."

"What happened to toys built at the store?" "You can get them," I said, "but they cost a lot more."

"These nuts and bolts, washers, nails, screws and springs, just won't fit together -- I can't build these things!

"The robot's still packed in the box, if you please, because the instructions are in Japanese!"

Together we worked, in the pre-morning hours, but the toys defied our Christmas Eve powers.

"The dollhouse is crooked," I snarled, through my teeth, and watched smoke encircle Nick's head like a wreath.

"Oh yeah?" he croaked, "that toddler's computer? You set it up wrong -- it looks more like a scooter!"

"Let's not get offensive," I said, without steam. "Remember, my dear, we are on the same team."

"O.K.," he said, "I'm becoming a wreck fast. Let's quit all this nonsense and go have breakfast."

"But after eating your croissants and sugarplums, pal, you'll have to affix every single decal."

He groaned, "I've had it!" and slumped in a heap. "To heck with these toys, I am getting some sleep."

But as he started his way up the stairs, he encountered a downrushing group of his heirs.

"He's been here!" shrieked each excited small tyke, "Santa Claus really came -- and brought just what we like!"

They inspected with care each partly-built gift, and strangely enough, not one child was miffed!"

"That's smart," cried the oldest, "he wants us to do it, and we'll show Santa there's nothing much to it!"

They constructed each toy, it seemed just a breeze (including the one that was in Japanese).

And I heard them exclaim, "Our toys are just right! Let's have Santa come to our house every night!"