Pamela Loxley Drake has a way of brightening the holiday season for strangers and family alike.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pamela Loxley DrakeI came up with this idea when trying to figure out how to teach my grandkids the importance of giving to others. And a way to keep them busy during the time we spent together.

Ornaments were to be made, then handed out randomly to the people the kids chose, saying "Happy Holidays" then walking away. Random gifts of love.

Granddaughters Sydney and Gabby (now adults) were little when the first ornaments were constructed. With a Christmas basket filled with their artistic endeavors, we walked into McDonald's for a lunch. Sydney handed the woman behind the register a homemade ornament, wishing her a Happy Holiday.

The woman, who seemed a little gruff, began to cry.

"No one ever thinks of me," she cried. "We have so little. Thank you."

This was the beginning. It was a craft packet of 80 ornaments that seemed to call my name after the holidays back in 2017 — and it was half price! So, the next year, my husband Loren joined our grandtwins, age 6, in creating a basket full of new ornaments. It would be our second year of twin-giving.

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 at Firehouse 67, a place the twins had visited since they were two. The timidity of the previous years seemed to have disappeared. Instead of giving only one to a fireman, the kids each handed out one, thus ornaments were disappearing two at a time. But as Nolan informed me, "We can always make more."

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 that would go on their trees).

Emma asked if we could go to the place where "that lady was." I knew exactly where she meant.

The previous year, we made our trek through Washington Square when Emma spied her ornament recipient. The woman sat alone on a bench and did not respond when Emma give her the ornament.

Much later, we were walking through the mall when this same woman caught up with 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 this stranger. She gave little girl eyes looking into a hurting heart. She gave love. There is no money needed to give warmth to an empty heart, no paper and ribbon to dry tears and just effort to show love. As Emma found, we were paid back in full by the bits of love we received handing out with compassion and hope to a stranger, a friend, a fireman, a loved one. We are the gifts of the holiday season.

Be a blessing to someone this holiday season, a gift to both the giver and receiver.

Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."

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