After 10 Christmas columns, my creative holiday well was recently running dry.
I had run out of topics. The more I tried, the more I was convinced my annual column muse was going to drop a lump of coal. I was really feeling the bah humbug vibe -- until one of Santa's helpers came to the rescue.
You know her better as Stephanie Fellenstein, our Hudson Monthly editor. Stephanie came bearing the gift of an idea.
"Why don't you ask JJ and Adah about Christmas?" Stephanie suggested. "That would be cute."
J'Shawn [JJ], 5, and Adah, 2, are my great-niece and nephew. Since the Hudson office staff is like a family, Stephanie knows about, and has watched, JJ, Adah and their 11-month-old sister, Anaya, grow.
A Christmas bulb went off in my head.
I could not interview Anaya, who took her first steps shortly before Christmas, but I leaped like a red-nosed reindeer at the opportunity of a JJ and Adah interview.
I was able to grab JJ when he stopped by on a jaunt with his aunt, and twin to his mommy, Chey. I was curious to know what JJ liked about Christmas.
"I like Santa," JJ said.
Good answer, but I wanted to try and find out why my nephew liked Saint Nick.
"He's giving everybody gifts," JJ said, with a serious look on his face.
I could tell JJ was trying to give the best answer he could. I'm not sure how serious he was on his next answer, but he sure made me feel good.
I asked what JJ wanted for Christmas.
"I want .... uh... Uncle Tim for Christmas," he answered.
That's my boy. I let him know he always has Uncle Tim.
However, my little interviewee was not done.
"I want a snowman for Christmas," he said.
Confused, I asked him if he meant a real snowman.
"No. The fake snowman I made at school," he corrected.
My nephew also said he wanted my 110 pound German Shepherd "Chance."
That was a surprise, because Chance never fails to bark at JJ during visits.
I tried to narrow the list down to a particular gift, maybe the newest toy shown on one of the many cartoon channels. Nope.
My nephew had a meager list, which touched my heart.
"I want a car, a black car, a fake car," JJ said.
As he started to become fixated on a recent mustard stain on my shirt, I knew his attention was waning. I tried to smile more and act really excited as I asked what he wanted in his Christmas stocking.
"Uncle Tim," was his answer.
Did I say I love this little guy?
I convinced him I was too big to fit on a wall, so he switched gears to a new list.
"I want socks, shoes, keys to my little baby car," JJ said, then burst out giggling.
I asked him what else he wanted, "nothing else," was his reply.
I was impressed.
The list for his mommy, Shawnee, and his Aunt Chey, were pretty humble too.
He wanted to get them a "flashlight, a telephone and some medicine,"
When I asked what type of medicine, his reply was "Frosty the Snowman medicine."
I tried to finish quick as JJ's attention was being directed toward the topic of bodily noises.
His favorite colors of lights are "blue, yellow and orange," he said.
His favorite colors on a tree are pink and purple.
"I like Frosty the Snowman," JJ said.
He even sang me a few bars, which ended with us harmonizing a line or two before choking on laughter.
I was able to catch a few minutes with Adah, whose nickname among friends is affectionately Ada Cooper Miller, on the phone.
Adah loves Christmas.
Her favorite thing about Christmas is "Santa."
Her gift list, while not as practical as her brother's, was simple. The only thing Adah wanted was a "Barbie Doll."
When asked what her favorite color on the tree is, she answered "a pink one."
Now, in her defense, her favorite color is pink. She has a pink jacket, pink shoes, pink back pack and anything else she can choose in pink.
Her favorite Yuletide tune is "Santa Claus is coming [to Town]." Adah did not specify if it was the traditional cartoon version or the Bruce Springsteen rendition, which is a personal favorite of mine.
"A dresser," is what Adah wanted Santa to bring mommy. She wanted a toy gun for her brother and a baby doll for her sister, Anaya.
That's all I could get. Adah was done.
"Thank you. I love you Uncle Tim," was her signal. She handed the phone to her mommy and moved on.
I had a great time interviewing my young family members. Thank you Adah. And thank you, JJ. And thanks to Stephanie who gave me the idea. But my biggest thanks goes to another child, who more than 2,000 years ago gave a gift more precious than any toy, goody or tree.
"Thank you" to the child who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger for us as the first gift given on that Christmas long ago.
I for one am glad for that gift. And dear readers, I'm glad for you.
I hope each and every one of you have the merriest holiday season and the happiest New Year ever.
Merry Christmas to all. And may God Bless us every one.