He stood listening to the salesman. I heard him ask several questions of his own. I watched as he looked at the big gleaming radio control helicopter with joyful interest. That little boy at heart was enthralled.
His name was Harry.
We were shopping a week before Christmas and had parted ways for a bit. When I located him, he was at one of those kiosks that set up temporary homes each Christmas, selling seasonal gifts, enticing young and old with their Pied Piper ways.
Not only do you get a large radio control helicopter, but it comes with a little one, too.
I heard Harry ask how long the vendor would be there. Then he told him, "I'll be back after Christmas."
I had kept asking what could I get him for Christmas. He always answered, "I can't think of anything." Finally I had to pin him down, saying Mom and Diane needed to have some ideas for when they went shopping. He came up with flannel-lined jeans and flannel work shirts.
But a remote control helicopter?
The heart wants what the heart wants.
Christmas morning, I arranged for him to open the biggest gift last.
"I can't figure out what it could be," he said holding it after opening two flannel shirts and a cap with LED lights placed strategically in the bill of the cap to help "old men" see better when working on trucks and stuff.
When he had ripped off enough paper to see what was inside, I watched as his eyes grew round in wonder.
"You got me that helicopter?" he asked. "How did you know?"
"You never know what Santa's elves hear," I told him.
Now, when we ever buy anything that comes with an instruction manual, Harry reads it cover to cover. And that's immediately what he began to do.
Becky and I went about cooking and baking for Christmas dinner at Mom's.
He finally made an appearance in the kitchen/dining room area, carrying the little helicopter.
"It says you should play with the little one first and get use to the controls," he said and began to steer it all around the dining room floor.
"Well, when are you going to fly it?" I ask, getting a little annoyed with the "whirring" noise.
I forgot about how little kids' toys always make noise.
"You're not supposed to try to fly it until you're confident about the controls," he answered back, happy as a pig in mud.
Becky and I just exchanged looks of indulgence and went about our business.
Suddenly it was quiet.
"You've got to be kidding," we heard. "The batteries are dead already."
Back to the manual he went.
"Can you believe they sell you this stuff without a charger?" He went in search to find something he already had that would fit. No luck.
"Do you think the mall's open today?" he asked.
I looked at him like he was nuts.
"No, and even if it was, you're not going to the mall."
"Can we go tomorrow?"
I swear I was looking at an 8-year-old little boy.
"Maybe," I answered.
So later on at my mom's after dinner, sitting among the carnage of a major gift-unwrapping session, Harry told George, our brother-in-law, all about his new helicopters and bemoaned how he had to wait until tomorrow to get a charger for it. George told him he could probably hook it up to the computer to charge it.
When we got home, around 9:45 p.m., he immediately plugged it in to the computer.
I was one pooped puppy, after several days of going non-stop. I was in bed by 10 p.m.
Sometime around 10:30, I heard this strange noise.
"Whir, whir, whir, whir, whir, whir ... splat!" followed by "Ooops" and then chuckles.
"What happened?" I asked sleepily.
"I hit the island leg. But it's OK," he laughed happily.
That's the last thing I remember before konking out.
Evidently, in order to master this thing, one almost needs a pilot license.
It's the day after Christmas as I'm writing this, and he hasn't even had lift off yet! Instead, I'm watching a grown man chase a little bitty helicopter around the floor.
But he's having a great time learning the ropes.
And I admit, I just love seeing my 63-year-old husband become a boy at heart again.
Christmas toys bring Christmas joys.