Then it was on to William Bottomley's High Country Lights in Ennice, NC. It was my fourth year there and I've seen his little boy Tyler grow up through the years. William has built this event from a simple concert in the Fire Department lot to a huge indoor extravaganza with an big supper to support the elementary school, Santa, and even the Chik-fil-a cow! And his lights this year!! I sat in the parking lot across the street for an hour in the van just watching them. For video, check out my facebook page. Just amazing!
And now I'm staying with my friends Larry & Rachel Charpiat in Pilot Mountain. Their display is one-of-a-kind, as far as I know. A one acre lighted parking lot at their house! Park, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate on the house, and walk through two acres of enchanting and whimsical lights and displays. And these two retirees put it all up and take it all down themselves. It's practically an amusement park, and night after night cars full of folks make their way here. I'm sure it's a Christmas tradition for many families. But Larry & Rachel don't charge a fee, they do it all out of the goodness of their hearts to make something special for the community. Larry told me this morning, "Sometimes you see the look on the face of a child getting a cup of hot chocolate, and you can tell they've never had one before, and it just lights them up." And that's why they do it. That's why all the wonderful decorators I've met in the US and the UK and Canada do it. To make children light up brighter than the lights, and bring smiles to the faces of the grownups and make them feel like kids again. It's a wonderful thing to see. You should have heard the laughter ringing throughout this place last night. "The joy it brings is more than money can buy" for SURE!!
I'm reminded, as I reflect, of Jimmy Buffets's Christmas song "Merry Christmas, Alabama (Never Far From Home)" wherein he sings about all the places he's been to during his long career and how he feels like he's never far from home because he's been welcomed in so many places. I'm blessed to feel that way, too. When I started doing "The House on Christmas Street" tours I was looking for a way to promote my song and thank the decorators who put it on the map. But for me, over these past four years, it's become so much more. I've been welcomed into so many folks' homes and lives, and each family has been a blessing to me from Florida to Washington, Pennsylvania to California, Texas to Minnesota and all the places in between. How fortunate I am to have made these connections with wonderful people who have such good hearts, all because of my little song. I've grown to love some of you and think of you as family. You know you love someone when you're about a mile from their house and you find that you are suddenly smiling without even thinking about it. That's how I felt driving up to Pilot Mountain.
Whether I've visited your home one time, or several times over the years, know that each of you has touched me in a deep and profound way. Your love of Christ, your joy in Christmas, and your generosity to your community by pouring your money and your energy into creating a display to be enjoyed by total strangers every year...and which, most times, benefits a charity...all of it has impressed and warmed me. So even if "The House on Christmas Street" never becomes the hit I've dreamed of, my life has been so much better because of YOU. I'm one lucky person.
Thank you all, and Merry Christmas!
Pilot Mountain, Dec. 16th, 2013