With Thanksgiving coming up next, that starts, whether we like it or not, the countdown to Christmas. Most stores start putting up decorations right after Halloween and some, before that.
Growing up, there was one store that, to the best of my recollection, did not do that. They waited until after Thanksgiving and if there was a perfect place on earth to me growing up, I found it in Donelson.
Lord, I miss that store for a myriad of reasons, but mainly one that stands out. It was where my Mom would take me Christmas shopping and it seemed as if every family in the world did the same.
That store—Castner Knott in Donelson.
The building is gone now, to make way for a new library, which we need in our community but while the structure may have been torn down, the memories in my heart of this place get stronger each and every year.
My mom would give me $25 to go shopping when we went so I could buy her a present and she always acted when I gave her that present, she had just opened the Hope Diamond. Moms. The only people you can give the worst smelling perfume to as a present and make you feel wonderful.
Castner Knott in Donelson was so much more than a place with clothes and shoes that looked pretty. The ladies who worked there were elegant and beautiful as if they were attending the Oscars. They were almost like rock stars to us kids when we went in there. And I will never know how they all knew our names and how they knew exactly what to show us.
You would ride down the escalator and see from that brief bird’s eye view, the table. The table where you would get all your gifts wrapped in a style that would have impressed Kings and Queens. Every side perfectly wrapped, every bow strategically placed and done in what seemed mere seconds.
There were a thousand worries outside in the world but for some odd reason, when you walked into that building during Christmas, everything was perfect. The displays, the trees, the wreaths, my God, it was all so tangible. You could feel that place deep in your soul every time the season rolled around. Goodness, as I write this, I am smiling from ear to ear.
It was an amazing social event because everyone around went to Christmas shop there and no matter when you went, you would run into them.
When they were knocking the building down a few years ago, I went and sat in the parking lot for about two hours. No music, car turned off and just listening to the faint sounds of people shopping there.
One of the best conversations you will ever have is when someone who experienced that same feeling you did and starts to tell their stories of going there and all they remembered. It will bring you the biggest smile.
The store is long gone now, but as long as it lives within us, it will always be there.
And what I would give for just one more trip.