I will confess to some cynicism from the time I was in my late 20s until my early 40s. And when I look at it written out like that, I realize that is a VERY long time to be cynical, and especially about Christmas.

But I was. And I don't know why. My dad was Santa Claus at both Towne Square Mall AND Holiday World during most of that period of time; he passed away when I was 39.

My parents always got into Christmas. And I'll admit that while I'm calling it being "cynical," I did have a few things that would bring the holiday spirit around.

One of those was Christmas lights. I love 'em. Always have. I remember when I was a kid and Dad would pile us all into the car and then we'd go looking. I don't remember if the newspaper was pinpointing the best neighborhoods back then or if Dad just knew or if he just GUESSED. But it was always a great time.

And it still is. And everybody gets in on the act, nowadays. That didn't used to be the case back in the day.

And so when I've been out of town during the holidays in years past (not sure how that will play out THIS year), I've always looked for lights.

If you're headed to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains at any point during the Christmas season this year, let the couple you are about to see be your virtual guide.

I don't know their names. They simply go by "yankeeinthesouth" on YouTube. And they have a virtual Christmas lights tour of Gatlinburg and the Smokies for us. These are my kind of people:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! And if you go to east Tennessee this year, tell "yankeeinthesouth" I said hello...whoever they are.

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