Were he called the Little Drummer Boy, he’d be best characterized as “marching to his own beat.”
Prior to pick up for the weekend’s yuletide festivities, he expressed reluctance. It wasn’t the trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house that concerned him. No, if he were to have visions of sugar-plums dancing in his head, he insisted he get to sleep in his grandparents’ nearby walk-in closet.
His wish granted, there was again peace on earth and goodwill most of the weekend!
His closeted respite lasted but a few hours, of until about 2 a.m., when I heard a faint whisper in an ear, “Grandpa!” I thought it a dream and rolled back to sleep. Again came that still small voice, “Grandpa!” Squinting, I turned and asked, “Nathan, are you okay?” He didn’t want to sleep in the closet with his brother and sister anymore.
He was requesting turn-down service in our king-sized bed. So, with Ma in her kerchief and me in my cap, we parted ways and made room, but not before our sly four-legged pet made it a snug foursome!
Quizzically, he’s the sort of youngster who eagerly gobbles down his spaghetti and meatball dinner, Saturday night’s menu, but not before instructing his server to hold the meatballs and spaghetti sauce, as he prefers only the noodles!
If that’s not strange enough, and no disrespect to the intent of that 1970’s “hit” song by The Jaggerz entitled “Rapper,” this preschooler spells it with a “W!” For much of the weekend he was on the hunt for Scotch tape, wrapping paper and something, anything really, to bundle up and place under our Christmas tree, which, save the tree stand, was presently bare.
Wisely, all official Christmas presents were safely stored away from this inquisitive one. He paid no mind to this minor detail, as our industrious 5-year-old found plenty of alternatives wrapping books, binders filled with trading cards and even basketballs. He wrapped coasters, pictures, socks and scarves. He wrapped a bar of soap from the bathroom and ornaments taken from the tree. St. Nick appeared to have arrived prematurely as more than 30 efficiently wrapped packages were mounded underneath.
Grandma, as she is apt to do for such occasions, pulled out all the stops for the weekend, scheduling mind-numbing fun and games. Along for the ride, I would describe it as a steady morphine-drip of relentless Christmas entertainment as we welcomed three grandchildren for two days and two nights, and another who joined us for most of the day Saturday.
Late Friday afternoon, we made the secret exchange of grandchildren and accouterments at the Circle K in Botkins. Traveling north to Bluffton, we dined in at the local Wendy’s. After pounding down all-manner of Frostys, fries, hamburgers and chicken nuggets, we drove downtown.
With masks on, gift-certificates and a couple empty tins in-hand, our next stop was to Shirley’s Popcorn. One predictable selection was a tin of multicolored jelly-bean-flavored popcorn.
From there, we explored the quaint village’s “Blaze of Lights” Christmas display. Pointing our motorized sleigh northward, we headed for Ottawa to bunk-down for the night. Once there, we unpacked all the luggage, unrolled the sleeping bags and began movie-night negotiations.
The winner was, and for a second year in a row, “The Christmas Chronicles.”
Prior to show time, we delighted them with their first Christmas gift of the year, each receiving a pair of matching pajamas, complete with tiny reindeer! It was a Kodak moment to be sure.
With juice boxes in one hand and candied popcorn in another, we all snuggled on the couch for the main attraction.
Rising early on Saturday morning, pancakes, sausage, syrup and, of course, whipped cream greeted them at the breakfast table. Inspired by last night’s film, a Santa letter-writing campaign ensued. Innocently, they expounded not on their wants so much but questioned how Santa gets it done without waking up any of the children.
Next came the wintery trek to “chop” down the Pollitz-family Christmas tree. In our case, we only needed to venture to nearby Glandorf. There we enjoyed the warm welcome — temperatures approached 60 degrees — at Cranberry Hollow who provided a “sleigh-ride” around the grounds and bags of tasty popcorn for the “long” drive home.
With one tree upright, two strands of colored lights hung and a quart of eggnog guzzled, decorating was in order. Collateral damage was minimal, as only three ornaments met their demise, errantly crushed to death.
Inserted betwixt and between were two exceedingly messy craft projects. Sprawled out at the kitchen table, the first was literally “for the birds” as we tied string around pine cones, caked them with peanut butter and rolled them in birdseed. This could only be topped by decorating Christmas cookies with every imaginable color and type of sprinkles, some of which actually made it onto the cookies.
Grandma picked Saturday’s movie, her favorite, “The Christmas Story.” The eldest granddaughter advised her younger brothers there would be no Red Ryder BB Gun under their tree as they could “shoot their eyes out.”
Following Sunday morning church — I was no help — we returned these three gifts to their parents and rendezvoused at Bob Evans in Wapakoneta for some cookies and pie.
When all was said and done, we were mostly done for and headed home for a long winter’s nap!
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org