VIC Column - A Family Gathering


We had a great late, family Christmas two Saturdays ago at Big Boys in Clinton. My children are kinda scattered so we have to organize a day to get together - even though it was early for three of the four, the breakfast buffet was perfect for the fourth, as she had just gotten off work.

Pat and I spend most of December with “the crude” so it was best that we not be contagious with the family. We had a couple rounds of anti-biotics in us (thanks to Pat, because I would wait until death’s door to ever go to the doctor) so we were on the downside of feeling awful.

Just a side note, it “hit me” December 7th. I muddled through the Christmas Parade, women’s wrestling at PC, and the end of the holiday fair, all that day; but after that, I missed work the next Monday (something I am loath to do) and spent a lot of December lying on the couch. I am - knock on wood - starting to turn the corner, though I’m still touting my medicine bag.

Last Friday I started feeling OK, so I stayed up watching “Twilight” on cable longer than I should have. That made me a little fuzzy-headed and irritable when the 6 a.m. call came to pack up the Santa bag (again) and head for a family gathering. Thankfully, Pat was the perfect counterbalance to my Scrooge.

We all got to Big Boys about the same time (they open at 6 for Saturday morning buffet). Mary Beth had gotten off work at 7 a.m. in Laurens, so she was en route to Newberry for a nap before heading back in at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tori, Patrick and Molly were in Newberry, so they got up (amazing) and made the 20-mile drive to the restaurant. Pat and I came over from Laurens. We caught up for a while, at one of their big tables, then hit the buffet. The food was everything we needed -- coffee!! -- and then some. We didn’t eat salad, but it was there if we wanted (they also had fish on the buffet). 

People came and went as we had family time. 

Pat worked the room, as she knows everybody. Mayor Bob McLean stopped by; he didn’t eat because he had been out to Blue Ocean the night before. City Manager Bill Ed Cannon was meeting with some folks at a table nearby. We had great service and I hope we didn’t wearing out our welcome, occupying a big table.

I have to tell you about our kids. Mem is a dispatcher for Laurens County E-911 and Emergency Management (and a paramedic). Patrick and his wife Molly live in Boone, N.C. - Patrick works for Mast General Store, he started in the warehouse and now is a buyer, and Molly is a librarian, who has energized her library’s late-teens program. Our oldest, Tori - pardon a “dad thing” here: Dr. Victoria L. MacDonald - is the pharmacy director at CVS in Batesburg-Leesville. Tori and Mem live in Newberry - the three, Tori, Patrick and Mem, are proud graduates of Newberry High School, and Wofford, Furman and Newberry colleges, respectively; Tori earned her pharm degree at the University of South Carolina.

We exchanged gifts, of course. For the kids, this was jackets and sunglasses year, plus some surprises. For some reason, Tori wanted a framed copy of a picture I had taken in Newberry a long time ago - a kid-dad connection thing, I guess. 

The kids gave us a three-box set Garth Brooks VINYL collection of all his albums before he took time off and then made his comeback. We have a lot of fond memories of wearing out “Garth Live” on road trips. We stuffed all the used-wrapping paper back into the Santa bag, and it’s in the back of Pat’s car, awaiting disposal. We had a great time, and nobody had to cook or wash a single plate. 

I remember one time Randy Stevens posted that he went by Big Boys for Saturday breakfast and they didn’t open until 8. He said Clinton people must like to sleep in - of course, this comes from a guy who rides in to work every day at 4:30 a.m., so take it with a (very small) dose of salt. The Big Boys folks must have gotten Randy’s message; in any event, breakfast at 7 worked out great for us.

If you’re ever in need of an early morning (early to us, at least) Saturday gathering spot, the MacDonald Clan heartily recommends a hearty breakfast with Charles and the gang at Big Boys Country Cooking, East Carolina Avenue, Clinton; and, remember:

“Never trust a skinny cook.”


(Vic MacDonald, editor of The Clinton Chronicle, has more than 60 years experience eating at buffets. He and his wife, Patricia Little MacDonald, live in Laurens, and Jan. 1, 2020, was their 3 years and 3 months anniversary. The views expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle. MacDonald can be reached at 833-1900 or




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