Christmas Town, Christmas Song

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by Ben Dungan
American entrepreneur and author Seth Godin recently wrote on his blog that our culture is always in a rush for ‘new’. He went on to say that there’s “an increasing desire, almost a panic, for something new.”

I think he’s onto something. It does always seem we are on a quest for something new all the time. We need to get the new iPhone or the new iPad the day it comes out. Technology moves so fast these days, that it plays into our quest for the next (new) big thing. We live to consume the new – that is, until Christmas rolls around.

Christmas is that one time of year where the new takes a backseat to the old. People love to reach back to hear the classic Christmas songs of yesteryear. People want more Bing and less Beiber. More Johnny Mathis and less Jennifer Lopez. It’s the only time of year I know of where people actually prefer to watch black and white movies featuring Jimmy Stewart and Edmund Gwenn.

After the fullness of Thanksgiving subsides, it doesn’t take long for nostalgia to creep in. The word nostalgia comes from two Greek words nostos (to return) and algos (suffering). So based on this, the definition of nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return. I never have thought of nostalgia as a form of suffering, but it does feel bittersweet and comforting all at the same time.

That’s why it makes sense as to why singer-songwriter Pat Harris wrote a Christmas song about North Carolina. Pat Harris is not a native North Carolinian. In fact, she grew up in Princeton, NJ and currently calls Pennsylvania home. However, when the holidays roll around, in her mind she goes to Carolina. As a young girl, she would spend summers and holidays with her grandmother who just so happened to live in Gastonia. Just like James Taylor, she too has written a Carolina song of her very own entitled “Carolina Christmas”. And according to Harris, you can’t write a Christmas song about North Carolina and not mention McAdenville in it.

McAdenville is a small little town in Gaston County that comes alive between Thanksgiving and New Year’s each year. And with the flip of a switch, McAdenville transforms itself into Christmas Town, USA. Now in its 57th year, families all over make the annual pilgrimage to McAdenville each year to take in over 450,000 red, green and white lights that are spread throughout the two-mile stretch of road that takes you through town. This annual tradition is just another way for us to connect with Christmases gone by and the people we shared them with.

Like it or not, nostalgia is a slice of the Christmas pie. It’s how we’re wired. We just express it in different ways.

For Harris, she wrote a song. For you and I, we may express this yearning to return to the past in a different way. McAdenville is a great way to travel back in time. And it’s like they say – it ain’t Christmas without the ‘Cadenville. And now we have a song to prove it!

To learn more about Pat Harris and to listen to her song, “Carolina Christmas”, visit the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.montcrossareachamber.com. More information on the Town of McAdenville is available online at www.mcadenville-christmastown.com.