On Neff Road: Pac Man Christmas


It was a craft packet of 80 ornaments that seemed to call my name after the holidays last year…and it was half price. Last year’s adventure with handing out ornaments may not seem quite as exciting this year. The twins were only four. What would this look like at five? So I asked. Emma asked if we could go to the place where ‘that lady was’. I knew exactly where she meant. Last year, if you remember, Emma gave a handmade ornament to a lady sitting alone on a bench at the mall. We had continued through the mall when this same woman caught up with us. She told us that she had been looking for us to thank us. With tears streaming down her face, she told us that she had been feeling lonely. She had no one and felt no joy in her life. Emma gave more than a gift to a stranger. She gave little girl eyes looking into a hurting heart. She gave love.

So this year Loren joined us in creating a basket full of new ornaments. Emma went for quantity, slapping sticky pieces onto the foam ornaments. Nolan loved the little ornament toppers that resembled Pac Man ghosts. The receiver will have no idea what they are, but Nolan set loose his own creativity, and it was just right. Our first stop was one of the fire houses we plan to visit on our Christmas giveaway this year. Instead of giving only one to a fireman, the kids each handed out one, thus they were disappearing two at a time. But as Nolan informed me, we can always make more. Instead of the timidity they experienced last year, they were all about the task at hand. As always, the firemen made them feel important profusely thanking them for their efforts (probably chuckling at the little Pac Man ghosts on their trees).

We didn’t have much back that lane on Neff Road, but I don’t think we realized it when Christmas came around. Our house was always open to the alone and lonely, travelers and visitors, old friends and new friends. They gave the gift of love to everyone they met. It was part of who they were. Sometimes we missed not having the holiday for just our family, but in retrospect, I understand the gift Ruth and Willard gave to their children. They gave us open arms to show love, respect, warmth and most of all acceptance to everyone we met. They definitely had trouble receiving, knowing only how to give. We knew that when we came home, we would be blessed by seeing the faces that knew us as children. Welcoming arms embraced us every time the back door opened.

There is no money needed to give warmth to a cold heart, to dry tears and bring joy. As Emma found, we are paid back in full by the bits of love we can hand to a stranger, a friend, a fireman, a loved one. We are the gifts of the holiday season. Gifts we can give freely. Our little decorations might not seem like much, but they touch the hearts of those who receive them and teach two small children the joy of giving. Be a blessing to someone this holiday season, a gift to both the giver and receiver.


By Pamela Loxley Drake

On Neff Road

Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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