The Christmas capital of the country sits about an hour and forty-five minutes away from me: a run-down southern town that leans off the side of a highway. For the last three years, I’ve made the trek to see it. Christmas Town is a sea of lights – every house strung up and gleaming, festive music jangling over the downtown speakers. Children wander the streets like it’s Halloween. They scream and wave at passing cars, roaring MERRY CHRISTMAS!! to everyone who passes.
It’s adorable. The point is to drive through the whole neighborhood and look at all the lights – so, okay, yeah, I drive an hour and forty-five minutes just to drive through a wealthy neighborhood and then drive an hour and forty-five minutes back. I know it sounds whack. But hear me out.
Last night, I went to Christmas Town with one of my closest friends back home. We used to go with a whole entourage of friends, but college and time and distance dwindled it down to the two of us. We drove down the dusty highway and blasted music, passed a canteen of hot chocolate back and forth between sticky fingers, and caught up about everything.
When we arrived at the town’s entrance, we found it completely blocked off. We had to drive another forty minutes out, loop around, and get in an infinite line to the sole open entrance. Yeah. It was madness. People were there from all over. License plates ranged from Florida to Maryland and beyond. We ended up waiting in that line for another hour and a half. It was a long time, but that grinding wait, that endless snaking line down the highway, that extra hour and a half, is what made me realize why I do this every year.
I don’t go to Christmas Town for the lights. I mean – I do, but that’s not the whole reason. I go because it is far away. I go because it means sitting in the passenger seat beside someone. I go because of the crackling conversation and swirling laughter and the music we play too loud.
My friend doesn’t have a lot of traditions. But he has this one.
I hope we keep it.
yours in haste,
P.S. THE LAST FOUR YEARS IS A TOP TEN BEST SELLER AT FOGGY PINE BOOKS!! I'm still reeling. I am so grateful to all of my amazing readers and supporters. Thank you so much!
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.