On the Road: Looking at America Through a Layer of Filth, Grime and Bug Guts

The Twelve Stores of Christmas

Of course no amusement park would be complete without shopping and Gatlinburg has taken the souvenir shop to a new level, they have specialty souvenir gift shops. I saw at least a million Christmas themed stores alone. That's not an exaggeration either, I mean they were literally "Christmas themed". I am amazed by a trend developing around America. It seems that our country's economy can support the selling of Christmas merchandise all year round. Of course your average Macy's or Woolworth's can't get away with leaving Christmas decorations up all year, but a Christmas store can. Where do you see these stores? Anywhere there's a City Board of Tourism, it is a sure bet that you will find a Santa's Village or a "12 Stores of Christmas" shopping mall. Nowadays, no matter where you go you can find the same holiday decorations you can find anywhere else. Just imagine a Christmas party at Mr. and Mrs. Troutbag's. Mrs. Troutbag is telling Mr. Mintwig about the lovely Christmas ornament she bought on her spring vacation in the mountains of Tennessee. Mr. Mintwig informs her he has an ornament just like it which he bought while resting in New England back in the summer. Mrs. Sousegrout overhears this conversation and thinks to herself, "I saw that ugly thing in a boutique in Michigan City, and thank God I had the good taste to ignore it and leave it on the store shelf where it belonged."

I like to think these stores will serve to bring the world closer together. All people can share the same experience no matter where their different paths might take them. Restaurants already guarantee every family vacation meal will be the same quarter pound hamburger with "special sauce", a side order of fries and a medium coke. Our world is getting smaller and smaller with the development of faster jets, quicker internet connections, 500 channels of television, and billions and billions of McDonald's meals being served in towns around the globe. Isn't that wonderful? Soon, no matter where we go or what we do, all people will have the same exact experience. Did you know, Las Vegas has it's own replica of New York City? I heard tell of one town that has built its own version of Graceland. In Texas there's a reproduction of Stonehenge and the heads of Easter Island.

NY, NY Stonehenge Easter Island

I can't wait until we can all gather around our video slide projectors and only have to sit through one set of slides for everybody's vacation. "Here is my picture of the Grand Canyon." "Oh, is that the original?" "No, this is Euro Grand Canyon." "It looks just like the one I visited last fall in Grand Cayman." "You mean the Grand Canyon in Grand Cayman?" Everyone in the den laughs, takes a sip from their martinis and wine spritzers, then continue looking at the next batch of slides that showcase the "New York City of Hoboken, New Jersey."

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