Lighting of Pilot Knob
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Find Holiday Inspiration at a Tennessee State Park

It gets dark way too early these days but the upside is being able to see the star-filled night skies so much more clearly now that most of the leaves are down.

Have you ever noticed how differently each leaf falls? Some take a straight plunge to lie among the tree roots; others seem to lightly dance on the faintest wisp of wind. Beech leaves tremble in the understory. And rutting bucks are decimating our pine trees.

Life goes on out here in the country.

Thanksgiving is upon us, Christmas follows too closely and I’m in need of inspiration to finish up gifts I am making in my workshop to accompany the homemade blackberry jelly we made from berries we fought heat, humidity, ticks and snakes to gather from thorny thickets near our home last summer.

Driving through the village of Leipers Fork seeing all the brightly colored lights lining streets, fences, doors, windows, rooflines and front porches reminds me of evenings long ago spent cruising the streets of my hometown looking at Christmas lights with my mom and sister.

We rated decorations on a pot scale, i.e. “little pot,” “big pot” or “constipating the skillet,“ based on how many lights had been strung. Over-the-top displays twinkled like a million stars before my young eyes. I’m grateful to still be moved by the sight.

If you’re also looking for holiday inspiration from simpler times check out Tennessee State Parks website to see who will be putting on big light displays, throwing a party or doing both this year. Here are some of my favorites.

One of the earliest events is the annual Lighting of the Knob at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park on November 30, 2013. Pilot’s Knob is a navigational landmark standing at 665 feet elevation on the western shore of Kentucky Lake. Seasonal music, snacks and visits with Santa for the kids start at 6 p.m. C.T. For more information call 731-584-6356.

Lighting of Pilot Knob

Holiday lights atop Pilot’s Knob at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park are highly visible since the knob is the tallest point in west Tennessee. (All photos: Tennessee State Parks)

From December 6-8, 2013, Fall Creek Falls State Park hosts the annual Christmas on the Mountain Celebration with a three-day craft show, Yule time music and storytelling. For more information call 423-881-5708.

December 7, 2013 will be a big day at Cordell Hull State Park on the Cumberland Plateau. Christmas in the Park celebrates the holidays with an open house reflecting the spirit of the late 19th century when future Secretary of State Cordell Hull lived here as a boy. The day will also feature a remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor in which happened on Dec. 7, 1941. The park is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. C.T. For more information call 931-864-3247.

Cordell Hull TN State Parks

Cordell Hull was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his work in creating the United Nations.

Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park outside Greeneville puts on a living history event during a Crockett-style Christmas celebration on December 7, 2013. The path to the reconstructed birthplace cabin of the famous frontiersman along the shores of the Nolichucky River will be candlelit, the cabin will be traditionally decorated, stories will be told and hot drinks will be served to chase off the chill from 4-8 p.m. E.T. Get details at 423-257-2167.

About 40 miles east in Elizabethton, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park offers a Winterfest Art Show all through December. Plus on Dec. 6-7, 2013 Sycamore Shoals hosts Christmas at the Carter Mansion, an evening of candlelit music, refreshments and historical reenactments. Additionally, the area is home to the Watauga Settlement, established in 1772 as the first permanent settlement outside the original thirteen colonies. For more on Sycamore Shoals events, call 423-543-5808.

Christmas at the Carter Mansion

Built between 1775 and 1780 on lands bought from the Cherokee Indian, the Carter Mansion is reputed to be the oldest frame house remaining in Tennessee.

The following weekend Norris Dam hosts its Holiday Homecoming. On December 14 from 5-9 p.m. E.T. the rustic cabin area becomes a winter holiday village. Get more information from the park office at 865-426-7461.

Norris Dam Holiday Homecoming

Norris Dam State Park’s Holiday Homecoming features live animal demonstrations, historical depictions of Appalachian life, horse-drawn wagon rides, old-time music and holiday treats.

Where are you going to find your inspiration this holiday season?

Hi there! I’m Vernon Summerlin. Like many, I came to Nashville to break into the music industry. After years of striving, I...Read on

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