Ella, Carson, Owen and Leif walked out of the children’s Christmas shop with big smiles and little shopping bags. Amblen walked out with a long, gift-wrapped board. He whispered to me, “Grandma, it’s for my dad!”
“Honey, would you consider a money clip or a tie?” I asked. He smiled and shook his head.
With determination he hefted his gift, wrapped in white tissue and tied with red yarn, up on his shoulder and marched toward the door. Like a family of ducks, we followed him out into the December cold.
He held one end of the board and I held the other as we paraded across Main St. with the little ones holding mittened hands and sticking their tongues out , hoping to catch a snowflake.
We entered a restaurant for lunch requesting one booth for all of us and one for the board. It had taken on a life of its own. After lunch we gathered coats, hats, boots, gloves, candy canes and shopping bags and went next door to see the children’s’ Christmas play. The “board”, resembling a huge stick of peppermint candy, was not easy to carry into the lobby but Amblen and I managed to angle it through the crowd with the other four holding hands and leading the way for us.
Before the show began, we all made trips to the rest rooms where the board accompanied us. Ella and I were happy to share our little stall with it, fearing what might happen with it propped up between urinals in the men’s room with four little boys.
We wandered down the aisle, found our seats, and politely asked people sitting in our row if they would please hold their feet up so we could slide the board under our seats.
After the show, we worked together to wedge the board into my car with coats, hats, wet boots, sticky mittens, half-eaten candy canes, crushed shopping bags and more grandchildren than windows. We sang Jingle Bells all the way home.
On Christmas morning Amblen’s father hugged Amblen and the mysterious gift in his arms. As the white tissue and red ribbon fell away, we could see the board we carried around downtown Dayton. It was the board we carried into the restaurant, restroom, theater and car. It was the board a little boy was so determined to give to his father. It read: THE WORLD’S GREATEST DAD.
No money clip or tie was ever so beautiful.