It is a time when people camp out in front of stores to get the best deals. Many will stand in lines for hours to save a dollar which is understandable in this economy. But for the life of me, I can’t help but think we have lost something we once had during the holidays.
Growing up as a child of the 1960s and ’70s, we didn’t have all of the large chain stores locally that we do today. I am sure some people with money went out of the county to do their shopping, but many stayed at home and bought gifts for their families.
One thing I remember about Christmases past was that Santa Claus could always be found in his little house close to where the gazebo is in downtown Canton today.
Sometimes there would be a line and sometimes you could just walk right up and have a visit. But it seems he was always there.
I remember around 1970 when the city of Canton would have a Midnight Madness sale.
That certainly doesn’t seem like much today with some stores staying open 24 hours. But back then it was a big deal.
People would come from all over the county to shop at Jones Mercantile, Kessler’s, Rosenblum’s and Fambro’s. There was also an Otasco, Key’s Jewelry, Mid City Pharmacy, Canton Drug Co., and the Greenrail Restaurant.
I know I am leaving out some of the stores. But these are the ones from my memory. I hope you can fill out the rest with yours.
But Midnight Madness wasn’t just about shopping. It was a social event. It was an opportunity to wish people a Merry Christmas in a time when that was politically correct.
I think Happy Holidays is the term we hear more often today. But back then, it was a simple time when it was all right to wish folks Merry Christmas without worrying about offending them.
I don’t remember anyone having a lot of money during this time in my life. But then Christmas was about more than the gifts given and received.
My mother and her sisters would gather for this event and shop together. Sometimes I would get to tag along being the oldest grandchild on her side of the family.
Looking back, I feel sure my bratty presence somehow made her shopping more difficult. But she spoiled me and in many ways still does.
The world has changed and most of the downtown stores are now only a memory. One or two have survived but the others were pushed out by the larger chain stores.
My mom and her sisters still go shopping together once a year, but it’s no longer on Main Street like it was when I was a child.
I really regret that this happened in our little town. Our children and the generations following will never get to experience this holiday event. Now it is either buy from the large chains or better yet, just order it online. But this is the world we now live in.
The only other option we had in those days was the J.C. Penney and Sears wish books. They were smaller than the regular catalog and really geared toward kids.
They called them wish books because after looking through one, I and others would do a lot of wishing. Some of those wishes came true and others didn’t. But I know that Santa did the very best he could at our house.
So as you go about your shopping this year, I hope each of you will take a moment to reflect back on our little town with Midnight Madness and Santa in his little house across from Jones’s.
I hope Santa visits every child and it is our responsibility to make sure he does. So let us all do what we can to make sure he knows his way in finding every little boy and girl in Cherokee County.
As with every column and every columnist, there will be some who disagree with our thoughts and opinions. And that is OK because we do live in a country that men and women have died to give us the right to have an opinion.
Either way, may the spirit of the season be with you.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.