West Branch, Michigan
Oddest thing about this mug is that I inherited it… and I bought it.
As so many of us are in holiday shopping mode the start of this week after Christmas, the mug brought back some sweet memories. I used to love shopping the day after Thanksgiving in the small towns near Grandma’s house.
Grandma didn’t really enjoy the shopping, so I usually went with Mom. I spent a weekend up at Grandma’s every couple months. I usually spent my “comp vacation,” the extra week I got in August for all the 55-hour weeks in the spring, with Grandma. When I was there during the week, we’d do lunch or shopping but in the summer the weekends were busy at the lake, so we’d go to the towns that were away from the lake from her house. West Branch was one of those places.
West Branch is home of my favorite Chinese restaurant in all of Michigan and we usually found ourselves eating a meal there when I visited. Most of the time it was just us, but we also brought one of her friends with us from time to time. I loved spending time with Grandma and she had very sweet friends too.
When we were in West Branch we occasionally shopped at K-Mart, because K-Mart was close at only a half hour away. I knew where the coin shop was because Grandma and I collected coins and I also knew where the Button Hole was. I think Button Hole was Grandma’s favorite local shop. They had a nice collection of fabrics and all the notions you could want for sewing or quilting. Okay, the shop was a half hour from her house and most of the staff knew her on sight, some of them by name! She enjoyed seeing the new quilting stuff that was in and I don’t think she ever left the store without something new. She often asked me when I was going to start quilting. Grandma didn’t start quilting until she retired, so I always told her I had time to learn when I retire.
The biggest reason Grandma didn’t like to shop the day after Thanksgiving is because the sleepy up-north towns, that were extra sleepy in the winter, woke up like a summer weekend day on that Friday! The little towns were pretty quiet compared to Metro Detroit on summer weekends, but my Grandmother, who used to give me white knuckles when she weaved in and out of rush hour traffic taking me home with her on weekends after work, had chosen to forget about driving in traffic too! One Back Friday afternoon, before it was called Black Friday, I showed Mom Grandma’s favorite shop in West Branch so she could buy some quilting notions for her Christmas stocking. They had just gotten these mugs in and knowing that Grandma didn’t drive out that far alone in the winter, it was a pretty good chance she’d be surprised.
She was surprised on Christmas Morning part because she didn’t know they had mugs and part because she didn’t think we’d gone into the downtown area in West Branch that day. I liked doing the little surprises for Grandma on Christmas, stuff she wasn’t expecting or fun gifts. One year, after commenting that the baseball cards I collected weren’t real because they didn’t have bubble gum. I got her a pack of ten-year old baseball cards, with bubble gum. She giggled about them all day. One year I had gone to the National Quilting Museum in Paducah when I was in the area for a job interview. I wanted to find her something that said National Quilting Museum on it. I found a mini quilt square one, made out of fabric, with the museum’s logo. She got completely fussed over at the next Quilt Guild meeting she went to after she went home.
And now the mug is mine again. It holds so much more than coffee.