My mom owned a gift shop for 25 years called Cox's Bazaar. It sold lots of cards, gifts, collectibles, and it was THE place for invitations in town. Big party, graduation, wedding, birth, baptism? Everyone in town went through Cox's Bazaar for something. It was also in a large way my childhood playground. I was born quite a bit later than my siblings. I like to call myself my parents' special surprise. I was late enough in their lives that my mom had switched her mode of thinking from how can I raise my children to what comes next? What came next for her was a business AND another child to raise. Rather than give up her opportunity to do something outside the home, she brought me up alongside her. I spent many afternoons terrorizing the ladies of the Hallmark shop by running up and down the aisles, reading all the cards in the funny section and scavenging for snacks from the store room. And the store room - it was one big dusty jungle gym. Boxes were stacked into rows and my mom literally had to climb over rows to get to her desk in the back of the room. I would sit on boxes while I ate my snacks, or I would sit at a table in the back of the actual store and look at wedding invitations. That was one of my favorite activities. Wedding invitations were displayed in GIANT books with big thick pages. I would pick out my favorites, and I would decide how I would word it just right. My mom was also a prime source in town for manners and etiquette. She had books on all the ways of appropriateness as well. As I grew older, my best friend, her younger sister(also my friend), and I worked at Cox's. My sister put in hours there as well. I have to say the McClanahan girls were much more appreciative and responsible employees than I was.
So many of life's little and yet incredibly important lessons were taught to me by my mother and by the women who worked there. Together they all helped to raise me and instill in me values I hold dear today. I had a group of women doting and loving and correcting me when I got stubborn or bossy or just plain out of line. I could have spent a lot more time in daycare or the women could have just treated me as the boss's kid, but neither of those things happened. And for this little girl, the love my mom showed me by including me in her busy life and the life of Cox's Bazaar meant the world.