The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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My Favorite Christmas

By Vickie Anderson-Griffin © 2014

Vickie D. GriffinVickie Anderson-GriffinI have heard people asked what is their favorite Christmas or Thanksgiving memory. I'm going to tell you about mine, when I grew up times were tough, with no running hot water in the house, had to heat it up, an outside bathroom; I could go on and on, but that's not going to be what this story is about.

The year was 1977, by this time I had my first son at the age of 18, I got married at 16 and believe you me; I was about like Loretta Lynn. This year I had started working at a textile mill called Ames, I ran like seven spinning machines. Anyway, they had started a Christmas Club where you could put money aside from each paycheck. So I started in January of that year and by December, I had managed to save eight hundred dollars. Now that was a whole lot of money to me.

Some of the ladies I worked with had a tradition of going to Atlanta to Rich's Department Store, the day after Thanksgiving; and believe it or not, to my amazement, they invited me. Well I met them on the Square in Cleveland, Georgia. My husband took me as I didn't start driving until 1980. So we take off with my friend and her mother, it seemed to me it took forever to get to that big town, and then we pull up to this huge department store, it about scared me to death just to look at it.

I told the girls I was a little scared as I had never been no where like that. Please don't get too far ahead of me I said, so we started shopping so many, many, stores. I walked really fast that day as I was in good shape then, anyway I walked really fast so I wouldn't lose them. Man, soon I got caught up in the fantasy of these beautiful stores; I bought Raymond my oldest son outfits in every store. I bought just a couple of things for my husband and me.

We had to get on an elevator, bout scared me to death I kept thinking what if that thing falls, but thank goodness it didn't; don't even talk about the escalator, I was so afraid of those moving steps, they laughed at me but I just couldn't help it, that thing scared me to death.

We shopped all day long, I had so many bags of clothes and toys for our son it was unreal. Raymond my son was born in 1976, so he was just the right age to enjoy Christmas.

Now it's about 6:00pm, we were all tired and it was time to go home; but first they said, "let's treat ourselves to a nice steak." To which I replied, I've never had a steak, they said you've got to be kidding me. Me and my husband never went anywhere fancy, usually just the Dairy Queen or the Tastee Freeze. So they kept trying to get me to get a steak, I wouldn't cause I knew I wouldn't know how to use the knife and fork properly; why I could just picture me knocking out someone's eye as I tried to cut it. Can you just imagine how embarrassing that would be? So I ordered sirloin tips, baked potato and salad and, of course, sweet tea. Why I had never seen such a big potato in all my life, plus a salad; it was delicious. I remember chewing really slow and enjoying every last bite of this food. They wanted to know if I wanted dessert I said no, I was as full as a tick; they kinda laughed at me. All the way home they said they just couldn't believe I had never had a steak, but the more they were around my awkwardness and my complete fear of Atlanta, well they believed me then.

Finally they take me home, I start to share with my husband all the many outfits and toys I bought for Raymond; to my surprise in my excitement of going to so many different stores, when I got home I had bought several of the same little corduroy outfits, we just laughed cause I knew I sure wasn't going back to Atlanta.

That Christmas with the Christmas money I had saved we bought Raymond a tractor and a little jeep to ride around in. We had went to the woods and cut down a cedar tree decorated it and had all those many presents that Santa had bought.

Things changed, we finally went to a nice steak house to eat, I grew up and would face many life changing events but I will never, ever forget that Christmas in 1977; and oh yes, my friends invited me back shopping the following year, they said it was like seeing Christmas in a whole new way; seeing it through my eyes in 1977.