Dolly’s new song, “Comin’ Home for Christmas,” gives us a glimpse into her childhood Christmas traditions.
Dolly Parton is known for wrapping the stories of her cherished childhood into the melodies of unforgettable songs. They are her gifts to the world. With the arrival of her new Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, she has given fans a real holiday treat; twelve songs, including five penned by Dolly herself. The lyrics of one such song, “Comin’ Home for Christmas,” reveal the heart of what made her family’s two-room log cabin a home.
Dolly reminisces about many of the holiday traditions her family shared. Her father, Robert Lee Parton, and her brothers would go out into the woods to chop down a tree, while the girls were busy inside making ornaments. Dolly fondly recalls the colored rags her mother would tie into beautiful bows to hang on the freshly cut Christmas tree. They even made a star out of cardboard and tinfoil to place atop the precious pine. Each family member played a special part in the creation of their Smoky Mountain Christmas memories. Dolly reflects,
“It was fun, because it gave us all something to do together. We all felt like we contributed to it, and Mama always made everything special too.”
Even after Dolly left home to move to Nashville, she still returned to East Tennessee to spend Christmas with her loved ones. Through the years, Dolly has continued to celebrate with her family during the holidays. She’ll be the first to tell you she loves Christmas so much that she has a Christmas tree in nearly every room of her house!
In “Comin’ Home for Christmas,” Dolly shares with listeners the magic of her Appalachian roots. The memories made in her Tennessee mountain home are treasures to Dolly. She hasn’t forgotten where she came from, and that firm foundation is what she continues to build on today. Dolly’s message serves as a wonderful reminder to embrace your heritage and cherish the people you hold dear.
Parton Family Circa 1980s
Dolly Parton With Her Parents Circa 1980s
Parton Family Circa 1950s
Michael MartinDolly Parton Shares Heartwarming Holiday Memories in “Comin’ Home for Christmas”
A reflection on Dolly Parton’s devotion to her people and her home.
By 1985, Dolly was a CMA, ACM and GRAMMY award-winning artist. Her acting career was flourishing with blockbuster hits such as “9 to 5” and she had earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! Dolly had reached superstar status. Yet, to the surprise of many, she dreamed of home and the people living there. Her vision, to build a place where her success would be enjoyed by many for generations and generations to come.
Most folks have heard how Dollywood got its name. On one of her first trips to California, Dolly fantasized about changing the H to a D in the iconic Hollywood sign. But what about her vision for the actual park. What motivated the young star to invest so much of herself back home in the mountains of East Tennessee? The answer is simple, Dolly loves her people, her home and everything about her heritage that helped shape her into not just the star but the person she became. A kind, generous, real soul who knows where she is going and loves where she came from.
In her autobiography, “Dolly My Life and Other Unfinished Business” Dolly reflected on why she wanted to open Dollywood. She said,
“The theme park is much more about the mountains and the culture of the people who live there than it is about Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton simply happens to be the most famous hillbilly from those particular hills, and a lot of people are curious about me and my life. There is plenty there to satisfy that curiosity, but there is also plenty that celebrates the spirit of a people who made a life for themselves in that very stingy countryside. These are my real people, the seed from which I sprang. I saw Dollywood as a chance to honor them.”
Despite naysayers, the park was nearly an overnight success. The 1986 grand opening saw around 10,000 guests pass through the gates. Five months later, the park welcomed its one millionth visitor. Today, Dollywood sees 2.5 million visitors per year. That number hits 4 million when combined with other Dollywood properties such as Splash Country and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. In 2013, Dolly and the Dollywood Company announced a 10-year, $300 million expansion plan. The plan included the 300-room resort which opened in 2015.
While the guest experience is at the center of the “world’s friendliest park” the people are still the heartbeat. The Dollywood Company now employs over 3000 people. In her book, published in 1994, Dolly wrote,
“I love the fact that I am able to give something back and provide so many people with jobs where none existed before. Of course, the Great Smoky Mountains were there for a couple of million years before I came along, and they are still the main attraction in the area, which is as it should be. If Dollywood can give some people a little extra incentive to visit there, then I am absolutely tickled.”
Perhaps Dolly’s sentiment for her people is best expressed in the words to her song, “My People, My Home” the opening number at Dollywood’s My People show.
These are my mountains, these are my valleys, these are my rivers flowing like a song.
These are my people, these are my memories, These are my mountains, this is my home.
“My People, My Home” – By Dolly Parton
Dollywood opens March 18, 2017! This year, the park will unveil two new rides, Drop Line and Whistle Punk Chaser, and Dollywood’s Splash Country will debut TailSpin Racer later this summer.
Dolly takes center stage with her microphone made from an old tin can and a tobacco stick wedged between the boards of her Front Porch.
If you had gone from cabin to cabin across the mountains of Appalachia in the 1940s and 50s, you would have observed a wide variety of activities. You might have caught a glimpse of a young boy watching his grandfather whittle a slingshot handle from a piece of white oak. On down the dirt road, you may have seen a mother lovingly teaching her children how to churn butter. Up the mountain on Locust Ridge, however, something extra special was happening at the Parton’s Tennessee Mountain Home…
In the Smoky Mountain morning light, there was a little girl with great big dreams of becoming a star. Her stage, the front porch, had been there all along, but she needed a microphone. She knew it would require a little more creativity —she’d have to make one. She searched through a pile of tobacco sticks, trying to find just the right one to use as her microphone stand. She tried three or four and finally found one she could wedge between the weathered wooden slats. With her stand securely in place, it was time to find her microphone. She loved all things shiny and knew just what she would use. She removed the label from a recently discarded tin can and smiled at her reflection as she held her first microphone in her little hands. In a crowning moment, she balanced it atop the tobacco stick. She paused to take a deep breath, and that’s when the magic began.
If you had been there, you may have simply seen a little girl in her favorite cotton dress singing her heart out to her younger siblings and throwing some extra feed to the ducks and chickens to ensure a captive audience. If you could have seen it through little Dolly’s sparkling eyes, though, it would have taken your breath away! The wings of her imagination carried her to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. She swayed to the rhythm of her heartbeat in a beautiful shimmering dress and sang into the famed WSM microphone to a sold-out crowd at the Ryman auditorium.
“I just pictured myself out there in the big world singing songs I’d written, performing to people and getting out of the mountains and just traveling around.”
It was a window to her dreams. Singing meant the world to her, and she was determined to take her music beyond the hills of her home.
Dolly Parton's Tin Can and Tobacco Stick Microphone
Dolly Parton Tin Can and Tobacco Stick Microphone
Rare photo of a young Dolly Parton performing in East Tennessee in front of a McCarter Auction truck.
Dolly Parton returns to the Ryman Auditorium August 1, 2015. Photo courtesy of Curtis Hilbun.
With that same cadence of determination, that’s exactly what she did! Now an American music icon and longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry, the spirit that fueled her front-porch-dreams has propelled her from the beloved stage of her childhood to untold numbers of sold-out performances in venues all over the world.
“That little tobacco stick and tin can have carried me far.”
Everything she envisioned on that front porch has become a reality, and though she may use many different microphones during her performances today, none could ever compare to the one of her youth…a tin can and a tobacco stick.
The LovelacesDolly’s Tin Can And Tobacco Stick Microphone