What North Carolinians are searching for on Christmas
Plus, three sounds of the season for you to enjoy.
Christmastime is an odd time to publish something. For one thing, it’s hard to say whether people are completely unplugged from outside distractions (because of family) or asking—begging—for a distraction (because of family). Because of this wonkiness, people tend to phone it in around this time of year, or to do some best-of or end-of-the-year lists that they can write a week or two in advance and schedule. Or you can always recycle something from earlier in the year or from previous Christmases, something I plan to do here in just a moment!
Anyhow, trying to make actual relevant Christmas content is hard! But folks, if nothing else, we’re about trying hard here, which is why I went sifting through Google Trends to find out what North Carolinians are searching for at this magical time of year.
This is highly unscientific, but here’s my methodology: I ran two searches on Google Trends: One from Christmas Day 2021, the other from December 20-25, 2021. I then compared them to national trends to see how they compared, and tried to filter out the ones that overlapped. Just for fun, I also ran searches for the top searched shopping topics in the five days leading up to Christmas, along with images. I’ll include the links to the searches here so you can go through them, but here are the highlights:
You all forgot something for Christmas dinner and desperately need to know if Food Lion is open
The number one search trend for Christmas Day 2021: “Is Food Lion open on Christmas Day” which was up 4,300% over normal. Overall, searchres for things that are open on Christmas Day are popular (grocery stores, Dollar General, Starbucks, Waffle House, Cook Out, and Sheetz). But Food Lion takes the cake. Harris Teeter doesn’t even show up in the top 25.
Here’s the thing about this: There’s always talk about grocery store wars, like, whether Publix is gonna horn in on Teeter territory, where Wegmans is gonna open a store, or if Ingles’ deli is better than Piggly Wiggly’s. But Food Lion is the undisputed GOAT when it comes to North Carolina grocery stores, at least when it comes to volume. Almost half of all Food Lion locations are in North Carolina, which has 505 of them. There are 28 apiece in Charlotte and Raleigh! By comparison, Harris Teeter has a mere 150 statewide. Food Lion is an international concern now, but they were founded in Salisbury and made all sorts of people into millionaires into that town. You may not love Food Lion, but they’re there for you in your hour of need.
Except on Christmas Day. Food Lion is closed on Christmas Day.
You forgot how to make Sweet Potato Casserole
In the five days leading up to Christmas last year, sweet potato casserole was the only specific search term about food to crack the top 25, and it came in at 250% higher than normal. In general, people were searching for topics surrounding casserole, ham, roasting, potato, and so on.
Which recipe is the best? It’s the one that’s in your family, the one that you obviously can’t find because why else would you be turning to Google so late in the season? Anyhow, I’m not going to tacitly endorse one because I’m a terrible cook, but I will drop this one in. It’s for Sweet Potato Pie Casserole, and my friend Dillon Deaton shot a video of it a few years back if you want to see how it comes together:
It’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas! You can regift it!
You forgot to get something for your mom
Last year’s number one trending Google Shopping topic during the last few days before Christmas was “Mother.” A lot of these searches tend to change year over year depending on what’s trendy (Nintendo Switch was a prominent search in North Carolina in 2021), but let’s not gloss over the fact that YOU ALL FORGOT TO GET SOMETHING FOR YOUR MOM. I can tell you ran out of time, because “easy” is number three on the list.
You’re trying to find a good Merry Christmas GIF for your group chat
For images, “Merry Christmas” is among the top searches, which, you know, it should be! As for GIFs, I prefer this one:
LOOKIT THE TINY CUPS!
You can watch the whole video here. It comes from a 1957 episode of the Frank Sinatra Show, in which three significant things happen:
For most of the song, Frank just lurks in the background, watching a grown man sing to himself while gazing out of a window.
There a full on fire raging in Frank’s bachelor pad.
At the end, a waiter arrives to deliver a meal, because that is what happens in tiny fake apartments.
There’s also this exchange:
Bing Crosby: [accepting Frank's latest LP album] Why thank you, I'll treasure it always.
Frank Sinatra - Host: You'll play it, too, I hope.
YOU’RE GONNA TAKE MY RECORD AND YOU’RE GONNA LISTEN TO IT, PAL.
I digress. North Carolinians are searching for nice and naughty images, as evidenced by number 25 on the topics list.
Three Sounds of the Season
One of my favorite interviews of all time was with Marshall Rauch, the Jewish man from Gastonia who became the world’s largest manufacturer of Christmas ornaments. He’s 99 now, and when I talked to him back in 2016, he said something that I think about quite a bit:
Jeremy: You are in a unique position as far as anybody I’ve met in that you are Jewish, and yet you are intimately involved in maybe the biggest Christian holiday there is. Is there something you’ve observed or know bout that holiday that others don’t see or don’t know?
Rauch: I don’t think so. I enjoy the Christmas season. No. There’s nothing that I see in it that other people don’t. I go to a lot of Christmas parties. I have a lot of fun Christmas parties. On the other hand, we have a big Hanukkah party. I have a lot of Gentile friends that I invite to our Hanukkah party. This is not an answer to your question, I’ve answered it: I know nothing. In life, it’s my opinion that people are drive by five different things: Sex, ego, faith, fear, and greed. Faith of course is religion. Some people are driven by it. I can’t say I’m driven by it. But it’s tremendously important in my life. It just is. And all my friends know it is. But you think about that, some of your friends, driven by ego. They ain’t worth a damn. Some driven by greed, they ain’t worth a damn. Some driven by sex, they ain’t worth a damn. That leaves faith and fear. And if you fear God, and you should, and you have faith, that’s what it’s all about.
Every morning you wake up is a blessing. It’s up to you, to make the day a blessing for someone else. That’s religion.
The podcast episode I made from his interview was one of the most fun things I’ve ever put together. It also includes Elvis and Jim Bakker:
This next one isn’t really a Christmas episode, but it does explain a very bah humbug moment in the General Assembly. In 2005, a state senator from Raleigh was the only person who voted against making the Fraser fir the official Christmas Tree of North Carolina. I let him explain his principled stance here, and in this podcast episode as well:
Finally, I had high hopes for our Rabbit Hole Christmas Song. I expected musicians from far and wide to take up the lyrics and generate a bona fide hit! Instead, I got one submission, from some guys in Durham:
Long time listener, first time Rabbit Hole caller. In the spirit of black lung sadness and drunken singalongs, my friend and I have put your lyrics into a fun, if not slightly off-key, slurred bar-room-ready anthem. I hope you're getting lots of submissions.
With a "Ho ho ho!" We've added an extra verse about collards and venison stew dead center--Gotta keep those reindeer on their toes!
Also, we couldn't think of a proper title, so here's "2 Xmas 2 Yule" by Gabe Guillory & R.J. Finch. Two NC transplants (Louisiana and NYC, respectively, circa 2015) representing Durham. Also shout-out to Rochelle Sparko for lighting the fire under our asses to actually submit something before Xmas has passed.
I love it. And so here it is, your drunken, off-key, North Carolina Christmas song:
I’m going to take a few weeks off for the holiday, and I’ll see you all again in January. Until then, have a happy holiday and new year.
This is the best free song I've ever heard. No really, I like the music (the score?) and the instruments very much. I can imagine drinking whiskey and vibing to this live. It evoked several fun Xmas memories in NC from "back home" despite the last 10-15 years of adulting in NorCal. In the coming week I'll look for some good BBQ, which by default is pulled pork + vinegar-based sauce as we all know.
OMG...get this to a proper producer and sound engineer to tidy it up, but it smacks of an old-school Irish Festivus ditty, and it's PERFECT! Thank you for this Christmas Eve gift, Jeremy!