Christmas in Main Street, USA

I live outside of a small town (population 3600), in a rural area populated by many similar small towns. The county seats have courthouse squares surrounded by small, locally-owned business. It’s a great place to live any time of the year, but it’s especially nice at Christmastime.

The decorations go up right after Thanksgiving. Our little town has a community tree, lit up with lights, and every lamp post has decorations hanging from it. The businesses are lined with white lights, all the way through downtown, bringing a sense of unity to the area. Every December we have Christmas on the Bricks (brick streets) with vendors, a parade, talent contests, and a giveaway.


The above is repeated in town after town. You could spend the entire month just visiting all the fairs, craft bazaars, choir programs, plays, concerts, and bake sales. When it comes to Christmas, small towns do it up right.

I remember when I was a kid, downtown Dallas was the place to go to see Christmas decorations. The big department stores like Sanger’s, Neiman-Marcus, and Titche-Goettinger used to go all out on window displays that had nothing to do with merchandise for sale, but rather they were designed to delight the children. Santa Claus and the elves, mechanical, moving animals, nutcrackers and nativity scenes. Trains and sleighs, angels and carolers, they all made Christmas a magical time.


Now it’s lights and lingerie, jewelry and fancy trees. The magic has faded into commercialism. We’ve forgotten that Christmas is about the children. Now it’s who can buy the latest and greatest electronic toy that numbs the mind rather than stimulates the imagination. It’s grownups trying to outdo each other, divorced parents trying to one-up each other, thinking they’ll gain the kids’ affections by what they can buy them.

I challenge you this Christmas to take a moment to just stop. Think back to when you were a child. What made Christmas magical? It wasn’t a $400 PS4 or a $600 phone. We never would have even thought of anything like that. It was a yo-yo, a Barbie–and if you’d been really good, a dollhouse to go with it, a book, or a new dress. It was special treats, a drive to see the lights, going caroling with friends, picking out the Christmas tree.


Can we go back to the way things were? I doubt it. But we can choose what we emphasize at Christmas. If you’re a Christian, the focus should be on the belief, the story of Christ. If not, I have to ask why you celebrate at all? Even then, you could focus on doing good for others, on sharing with the less fortunate, on family. Focusing on the gifts only encourages the commercialism that bankrupts far too many families at a time of year when we should be thankful for what we already have.

So this year, take your kids to see the lights, to watch the parades, to see the Nutcracker at the ballet, or make some cookies with them. Make some memories. They’ll remember those long after the toys are gone.

If you need some ideas for activities to do with the kids, check out our free Holiday Decorating book.


Holiday Decorating, a Free Companion Book to Christmas on Main Street 2014

Holiday Decorating, a Free Companion Book to Christmas on Main Street 2014

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!


7 thoughts on “Christmas in Main Street, USA

  1. Christmas is one of the reasons I love small towns. Gosh, I remember Sanger’s too — now gone the way of so many once-popular department stores. You’re right that the window display in a town’s big department store was designed solely to delight children. I can remember going to town when I was very young and seeing a life-size animated Santa, slowly swiveling and waving. Wow. I thought that was the most magical thing I’d ever seen. Sure, I knew it was a mannequin, but that didn’t lessen its charm. From my small part of Texas to yours, Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up going to those same stores in downtown Dallas at Christmastime — just to see the window displays, “Santa’s Wonderland,” and of course visit Santa himself. How boring that would have been if the windows had been filled with gifts for grown-ups! You’re lucky to live in a small town where the community comes together at this time of year. Enjoy the holidays!


  3. There’s nothing like small town enthusiasm at Christmas. People smile, wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday or Happy New Year. It’s just nice. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the feel of a small town Christmas and have lived in several small towns that fit exactly how you describe it. Rockport has taken a little getting used to even though it is kind of small in the winter. The light parade is about a quarter of the one in Eagle Lake 20 years ago when it first started but we have a lighted boat parade to. I don’t know how they pay for it but there is a beautiful fireworks display after the parade. The lights are decorated with Christmas trees, drummer boys, leaping dolphins, and octopi (is that plural for octopus?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We just had a great christmas light parade in my small town last weekend! It was so much fun to watch and see everyone in town line up their cars (it was too cold and dark to sit outside) to watch the parade pass by. There is something special about small town living, I feel it more and more, the longer I line in one!


  6. What a wonderful post, Tori. I completely agree with you. At our family gathering we give gifts to the children only. No gift exchange for the adults. I refuse to contribute to the commercialization. When I was small, I always got a book for Christmas and I was so happy. Now we have a big dinner on Christmas Eve, and in the morning we all go together to the Christmas Mass.


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