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Remembering stores, people and reason for the season

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12 Views of Christmas: Guest column by Paul Mullins

As I think about memories of Christmas time, I can’t help going back to early childhood days in Elizabethtown. Christmas Day was an all-day event with family time, including dinner, sharing of gifts and storytelling.

Hearing Dr. Verlin C. Kruschwitz deliver the message at Severns Valley Baptist Church is something I cherish. I admit my parents did spoil me as a child, but they always made clear to me the reason we celebrated Christmas. Jesus Christ and His birth marked a season of hope and love for all man.

As a young person growing up on Sycamore Street, I remember the stores at Houchens Plaza and the Christmas decorations on the light poles in the parking lot. It seemed shoppers were everywhere. I remember looking at toys at TG&Y, eating at White Dove Bakery, Mom enjoying herself at the S&H Green Stamp Store and Dad shopping at the new Houchens grocery and talking with his friend Doug Patterson.

It was a very special time. Everyone seemed to know everyone and had time to speak.

I remember making my list for Santa and showing my parents what I hoped Santa would bring me. The town square was the hub of most shopping action when I was a young man. I remember going on the square to The People’s Store, Marcum’s and J.J. Newberry. My parents loved shopping at Western Auto, which always seemed to have all the “cool” electronic devices and, of course, the bike I wanted.

As much as I remember those times and stores, it was really about people like Marvin Jones and Marie Byrd at The People’s Store showing my mother clothes and shoes, Norman and Edith Dupin at Western Auto making sure they got the bike out to my father’s truck without me knowing it and many others who all made everyone feel special.

While visiting my grandmother’s house on Crestwood Street, I was able to walk to Hawkins Grocery where they always had “Christmas candy” that you could purchase by the pound. Walter B. Hawkins, one of E’town’s true gentlemen, always treated me with a few “taste tests” before I chose the candy I wanted.

It was small-town America at its best and, although I didn’t always know it at the time, I was so blessed to have grown up here. The innocence of this small town insulated and protected me and my friends as we were growing up and enjoying life.

So, as I reflect on my Christmas memories in Elizabethtown, I remember the people who made growing up special in this small town. I know my children will reflect on their childhood with fond memories of growing up in a special place too, as my family and I have made Hodgenville our home.

Christmas is a time where faith, family and friends should be our focus. It’s my hope we all carry these beliefs with us longer than just the Christmas season.

As my mother would have said to me, “Paul, be sure your children know the reason we celebrate Christmas.”

I have kept these words close to my heart. My wife, Tonda, and I have shared many of these traditions with our three sons.

Our hope is that we can instill in them the same spirit – that Christmas is about celebrating the ultimate gift of God’s love and spreading that love to others around us – not just those in our families, but to everyone.

Paul Mullins, an Elizabethtown native, is principal of LaRue County High School.