My dad worked in retail sales his entire life. As a result of that, we didn’t see him much between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At least I didn’t see him much until I went off to college. I know that may sound strange but when I would come home at the end of the fall semester he would put me to work helping at his store.
Once WT Grants filed bankruptcy and closed their store at the mall in Elizabeth City, my dad worked in discount stores in downtown. I actually liked that a lot better. I would love to walk into Eagles Department Store (I think it later became the Super Dollar Store or something like that) and immediately the smell of popcorn would rush at you like you had fallen into a vat of it just as it was coming out of the popper. I can remember the days of the Christmas parade, we would sell what felt like a thousand of those things. Speaking of the parade, my dad would always lock the store while the parade was going on. He always acted like it was becuase he was worried about being able to keep an eye on eveyone coming and going. In reality I believe he just wanted to watch the parade like everyone else.
From that day forward until Christmas eve he would work 12 hour days 7 days a week… and you could tell that he just loved it. And becuase he loved it, he required that I love it too. He didn’t work me quite that many hours but it sure felt like it. I remember getting there early and having to head up to the office and put the records on. He had this old Vitrola record player and what seemed like a thousand Christmas albums. The record player sat perched on a small halfway upstairs in the office. It had a single remote speaker that my dad had draped the wired down the wall and located the speaker at the top of the shelves on the lower level of the store so that the customers could hear the music better. You could stack several albums on top of each other and as one finished the next would drop down on top of the one just finished. It was my job to always remember the album that was on the top so that I could hustle back but the stairs and be there to flip them over. I can still here him calling my name across the silence as the I was distracted by straightening up the toy section for the millionth time. It didn’t matter what I was doing, he expected me to drop it and get those songs back on. He was funny about his Christmas music. Even after the store was closed and he and I were the only two people in the store; him closing out the registers and me sweeping the floor; if the music stopped. I put the broom down and ran to put the music back on. I can still here him humming those songs today… now that was truly the songs of the season for me.