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Christmas in Paris - USA

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As you grow older, Christmas loses some of its charm and excitement. There's no restless sleep on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to arrive, or creation of long wish lists for items to be delivered down the chimney by a jolly fat man with a beard. I believe you call him Ded Moroz, but no matter the name, most of us likely believed this imaginary character to be real at one point in our lives.

As long as you're surrounded by children, the spirt of the holiday can easily be recaptured and brought to life at a moment's notice. The same is true each December in most American cities, but particularly in small town USA, where there's always a more intimate and cozy feeling. Many have commented that in America we like a "show" - big parades, concerts, etc. and it's true. Perhaps the greatest time to witness this spectacle is at Christmas, when almost every town and a lot of individual homes are decorated with festive lights, wreaths and other symbols of the holiday. In America, these symbols include Santas, snowmen, elves, reindeer, doves and, for the religous and churches throughout the USA, manger scenes. Some of the mangers even have live animals and humans, particularly on Christmas Eve.


I already showed you Moscow, Tennessee, a sleepy little Tennessee town. On the same day, I visited Paris, which inhabits about 10,000 residents. Maybe these photos will put you in the holiday mood, if your enthusiasm for the season has not yet been ignited...

1. Paris is about a two hour's drive from the cities of Nashville or Memphis. Road infrastructure here is good, even in remote towns. So I can say for me it's a great pleasure to take a road trip almost anywhere in the States. Except for large cities, where traffic and congestion is always a nightmare.

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2. Main street in Paris, typical American town with a lot of gas stations, hotels, convenience stores and quick places to eat.

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3. Big, inflatable snowman by a gas station. A lot of people put these blow up dolls in their yards around the holidays, but I don't really like them. They come in all types - snowmen, Santas, even the Grinch. Speaking of "Grinches", each year in America we have what conservatives call the "war on Christmas." Yes, Muslims, Satanists, atheists and others complain there should not be no holiday parties or celebrations in schools, no religous signs in public or government buildings saying "Merry Christmas", etc. The Christians complain each time someone writes the shortened form of the word "X-Mas" because "Christ" is removed. All such nonsense!! Makes me insane each year. :( I'm not a Christian, this is not a religious holiday for me, but I don't care how each person celebrates. If you don't like the decorations or sign, don't look, or visit another establishment. Plenty of other choices. The benefit of a capitalistic society.

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4. Strange welcome sign for the city. However, each April, the world's largest "fish fry" and festival is held in Paris, Tennessee. The festival features a parade, crafts fair, and in true Southern style - a rodeo!

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5. City center, with a small Eiffel Tower decorated as a Christmas tree. Paris was the first town incorporated in West Tennessee in 1823.

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6. A larger replica of the iconic Paris structure sits in a remote part of town, almost in the forest, surrounded by a cemetery and playground. On the day I visited, dramatic grey skies hung over the tiny replica. Nothing in comparison to the original, magical Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, which I've visited numerous times.

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7. A lot of tiny shops, antique stores and auction houses.

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8. I don't know if these shops are common in Russia, but I love them! You can find all kinds of unique items and collectibles. I would say there are typically two types of antique shops in America, and they can be found in almost any American town. Ones where fancy and estate items are sold at very expensive prices, and other antique shops like this one, where you can find old school items and collectibles at cheap prices. Very Americana.

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9. In most American towns, you can see a similar collection of signs, which incorporate insignia for local clubs, kids' sports leagues, organizations, etc.

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10. Almost all store windows are decorated for Christmas.

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11.
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12. On weekends, Santa sits in this small little shack and children can come, sit on his lap, and tell him what they want for Christmas.

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13. In this store, we met the friendliest Southern folk. Some of the poorest States are located in the South, but I can say that hospitality is at its finest here, particularly in Tennessee.

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14. This young guy works at the local bank, but during the busy holiday season helps his mom in the store during his days off. I'm not sure how many tourists visit this small town, but they seemed shocked to see us there, particularly since I was traveling with my friend from Russia. :)

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15. The town plays off its name, with a lot of gifts and decorations reminiscent of Paris, France.

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16. Puppies and even a grumpy cat for purchase. :)

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17. What about food? In America, there's never a shortage of it. People sometimes ask me what "American" food is, and I never know how to answer because we eat almost every type of cuisine here. But I guess barbecue would be considered "American." This is a common food in the South, with many people smoking the meats right on the street. And, yes, in the South there are A LOT of black people. Do not be scared. :)

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18. Close-up of meats smoking in the pit.

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19. You can buy all types of smoked meats - chicken, pork, turkey in this tiny roadside cafe. However, there were no tables, so we decided not to eat there, particularly since this is very messy food.

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20. Choice for our meal - a local diner called "Cookie's." Here, a lot of fattening, comfort food. Of course, you can eat a healthy grilled chicken breast and vegetables if you wish, but when I'm starving, I need more substance. Diner photos shot by macos.

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21. I don't remember what I ate, but here's my travel companion's meal. Grilled steak, covered in onions and cheese, pinto and baked beans, baked potato...all served with rolls.

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22. Food specials for the day.

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23. Owner of the diner and our waitress - adorable woman named Jenny. She sat and talked with us for a while, probably happy to see some new faces. Typically, in diners like this, the owner and waitresses will know customer's names and even their orders by heart. Same people, day in and day out.

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24. Blue collar workers, stopping by for a quick lunch.

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25. After the meal, another quick drive through the town, en route to the next city. I can't even remember where we were headed to next...but here's the Paris Post Office.


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26. America has lost all sense of "spirituality?" :)) Churches EVERYWHERE in the USA, esp. in the South and in smaller towns.

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27. Old, local house in a bit of disrepair.

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28. Local Courthouse, one of the nicest buildings in Paris. The building likely houses some other government offices, but I didn't walk inside.

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29. Strange statue in the courtyard. Man with distorted face and no mouth - sorry, I don't know who he is?

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30. Industrial part of town, but limited employment opporutnites in Paris. I think most residents travel to the neighboring and larger cities for work.

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31. For the directionally challenged, there are a lot of road signs throughout America to point drivers in the right direction. I still somehow manage to get lost and turned around quite often.

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So, there it is. Another small town in America, completely commonplace for me, but I hope interesting for you to see. In a few weeks, I'll hop in a car and go on a road trip to the deep South - probably Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The Confederate stronghold, an integral part of America's history and the civil rights movement. Hopefully on the route back a quick stop in Missouri, including Ferguson. A town which no one ever heard of until recently, but is now infamous.

How about you? Are you in the holiday spirit yet? I put up my Christmas tree this weekend, and am looking forward to a lot of gatherings with friends and family in the coming weeks.

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Other reports about Tennessee here.

Comments

peacetraveler22
Dec. 8th, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's beautiful! Looks the same as the States, but we almost never have snow in Virginia. Such a pity. :(

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