Finding Joy Alone in the Holiday Season: A Photo Gallery

On a recent Saturday, I spent part of the afternoon covering a Christmas parade in my town in Tennessee.

It was one of those days where I’d rather lie on the sofa and watch TV all day, but I had promised I’d go shoot photos, so I did.

As I stood in the crowd and wandered between groups of people I thought to myself, I’m probably the only one attending this parade alone.

Sometimes I long for a family or a group of friends; to be lost in a group where I’m just one of many, but recognized.

As I stood on the street and watched the high school bands march by, I was moved to tears.

Suddenly, I realized: I am part of a community. Not just one where people come to visit, marveling at the southern hospitality, but where people come to live, feeling this is where they have belonged the whole time.

More than that, though: I am part of the family of Christ, a kinship which has never left me alone or feeling abandoned.

As we celebrate the holiday of Christ’s birth, I am reminded of the joy I experience each time I recognize my place as a daughter of Christ.

Here are some of the photos I’ve taken of holiday events this year. I hope you feel the brightness and joy of the holiday that I experienced as I took them.

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Thousands gathered for Franklin’s tree lighting ceremony on the town square.
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Freedom Intermediate School’s Honors Choir performed at the tree lighting.
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Christian artist and Franklin resident Matthew West joined students on stage.
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Artificial snow fell from the sky as the tree was lit.
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Residents and visitors gather around the newly lit tree to snap photos.
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The tree at the town square served as a rallying point for the Kiwanis 2017 Christmas Parade
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Several high school marching bands participated in the parade
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A UPS driver dressed as Santa Claus was one of many parade participants giving candy to children.
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Pat Petty, a lifelong Franklin resident, has been the town’s Santa Claus for many years.
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Bill Minneci, 72, has become a legend in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Brentwood for his holiday lights display
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Minneci lost his son, BJ, in a car accident in 1993. BJ was 16. Minneci said he feels his son’s presence in his workshop while he prepares the display each year.
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Minneci has decorated up to 8 houses on his block; he said 2017 will be his final, full-scale year.
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Danny Veale and daughter Nina-Lily sip hot cocoa at a City of Franklin Candy Cane Flashlight Hunt.
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Children decorated bags to fill with candy canes.
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Dickens of a Christmas is Franklin’s signature holiday event; dozens of characters from Charles Dickens’ classics mingle with visitors on main street.
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Vendors lined both sides of the street for nearly a half-mile stretch.
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Montgomery the lamb dressed as a reindeer to woo visitors.
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Franklin police looked a little different during Dickens of a Christmas.
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Outside the old city courthouse, a snow machine creates a picture perfect backdrop for holiday photos.
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The Leiper’s Fork Christmas Parade is known for being quirky; the village of 650 swells as several thousand people pack into the downtown.
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Children scramble to pick up candy flung at them by parade participants.
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Santa Claus made a pre-parade appearance.
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The ferris wheel and ice skating rink at the Irvine Spectrum shopping center
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Dozens wait in line outside the Mission Viejo Civic Center for photos with Santa Claus.
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Santa takes gift requests every year at his workshop.
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Merry Christmas, from me and my self timer!

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