McAdvenville is a one-mile long town that accommodates nearly 600,000 people for two days in December. Greeting car passengers who drive through the town are millions of twinkling lights, ornate Christmas décor and a sense of going back to a simpler time.
But for Stan and Karen McDowell, decorating their home in McAdenville means more to them than simply decorating for a season. They use this time of year to honor their son Mark, who died while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.
“We just moved to McAdenville in March 2009 and we lost our son in June 2009,” he said. “We thought, here we are in Christmastown USA and we just suffered this huge loss; are we going to sit here and mourn throughout Christmas or are we going to make it a time of joy, knowing that our son is in heaven now?”
McDowell said he and his wife take the time to change the décor every year but make sure to keep their faith a central theme in the decoration to honor Mark.
“He was such a good man and was a Christian,” said Stan. “While he served in Afghanistan, the Air Force told us he brought many people to the Lord. Christmas was his favorite holiday and we use this time as therapy to remember him.”
When cars drive past the McDowell house, which is the most decorated on the street, Stan said many of them stop and take photos and even get out of their cars to let him know how much they like the decoration.
“Everybody loves our “Merry CHRISTmas” sign that I made four years ago,” he said. “Everyone stops and says how much they like the sign; to tell us that that’s the true meaning of Christmas, having Christ in Christmas.”