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Taylors dress up as part of holiday tradition

It has become a family tradition at the Robert and Vickie Taylor household to dress up as Santa and his essential elf to help spread a little Christmas cheer around Demopolis on Christmas Eve.

That tradition began nine years ago when their fist grandchild, Andy Hoggle, spent his first Christmas at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital fighting pneumonia. With such a tiny little boy, only eight months old, in distress, Vickie said she wanted to do something to brighten his Christmas Eve, even if he was in the hospital instead of snug in his bed at home. The idea of dressing for the part was Vickie’s.

“I asked Robert if he would be willing to dress up in a Santa suit, and he just immediately agreed,” she said laughing. “Andy was so small and he was hooked up to an IV. I think we scared him to death at first until he figured out it was Granny and Grand Daddy.”

The Taylor’s didn’t stop with visiting their own grandchild. Since Robert is employed at BWWM as director of facility operations, he knew there were five children in the hospital that Christmas Eve and so the couple visited them all, handing out candy from a “black and fuzzy” Santa bag Vickie had sewn for the occasion.

They had so much fun, that they just kept going with the idea. “We visited every child in the hospital; we went to Wal Mart and every store we could find that was open on Christmas Eve that year,” Vickie said. “We even stopped at intersections and red lights and if we spotted a child in a car, Robert would hop out and give him candy.”

For the next six years the couple kept the tradition just because they liked the idea of spreading smiles. Last year, Robert and Vickie missed their mission, and they are trying to find a day this year for a repeat performance, though it probably won’t be Christmas Eve.

Vickie said her husband’s schedule at work is particularly hectic this year, and Vickie, who is the administrator of Southern Oaks Assisted Living, is pretty busy as well.

“With our schedule this year, Robert’s responsibilities, and my own responsibility in getting the projects completed at our new facility, it won’t be easy to find time. But we’re talking about it,” she said.

Robert and Vickie are truly like-minded. She said it comes from being raised by caring loving parents.

“My mother and father were both giving and loving people and so was Robert’s,” Vickie said. “In Uniontown where I was raised, I remember our little church didn’t have a nursery. So, my dad built all the baby beds for a nursery and my mother sewed all the sheets and curtains and everything else the nursery needed. I saw them do a lot of things like that. They would organize plays and charity events. It would take all day to tell what I saw them do for the church and for people.”

Those lessons appear to carry over in the present generation. Vickie said she and husband saw an elderly man picking through a trash can last Sunday as they were on their way to shop for their two grandchildren for Christmas. “He was eating the potato chip crumbs from a bag and I asked Robert to go over and give the man $20,” she said. “He didn’t even hesitate. He walked straight over and gave the man the money and that man thanked Robert all the way back to the car.”

Vickie said she and her husband get lots of satisfaction from giving, whether it’s to a man who obviously needs help or her own grandchildren. “The truth is,” she said. “I know we got more satisfaction from helping that hungry man than we will when we watch our grandchildren open gifts on Christmas morning.”