It starts in late October, we’re told, but really gets crazy as November winds down and the holiday frenzy of December kicks into gear. Lines are at times hundreds of people long, people waiting all day just to drop a letter or package in the mail, proudly postmarked with the town's name: Christmas. No, we’re not in the North Pole. Quite the opposite. This non-descript, one-road town, framed on all sides by swamps and gators, is located deep in the heart of America’s flaccid appendage, Florida.
The Christmas Post Office isn’t the only homage to the town’s seasonally famous name. There’s a Christmas Museum, which was shuttered, cluttered, and overgrown, reminiscent of a “before” shot from a hoarders show, and multiple statues and shrines to both Santa Claus and the holiday’s more religious leanings, all of them bearing the sort of soggy dilapidation that only constant humidity and an existence below sea level can deliver. There’s the Christmas trailer park of course, where pitbulls roam the street and Confederate battle flags twitch limply in the fetid breeze above porches holding leathery, tank-topped denizens, and a windowless, bomb shelter style bar with an old couch out front and a haggard, meth-toothed Santa mask.
The Santa masks and assorted other typical Christmas schwag are scattered about everywhere, taking on a lurid irony in their run down tropical surroundings. Christmas isn’t entirely just another dying roadside town, victim to the changing tastes of a culture that prefers clicking like or swiping right to driving far out of their way to ogle at kitsch. It's home to its namesake decommissioned fort, a surprisingly modern and spacious postal office, and a Country Craft and Christmas, a well-lit, ephemera-clogged passion project that sells all things holiday, all the year around. Entering the shop is like peering into the heart of one of Saint Nick’s elves, a glittery, tinsel-ridden explosion of sparkles and magic, barely contained by the fake stone façade and wooden statue of Santa unintentionally acting inappropriate with the front porch’s railing.
Who would take the time and effort and money to build such a gem of a gift shop in the center of such a declining town? What sort of passion, what sort of obsession, is required to tirelessly hunt down thousands and thousands of holiday knickknacks? Watch the video above and find out.
OMFG, America! is a new series from the Daily Beast travelling the country, state by state, uncovering the weirdest, wildest, most wonderful, and, of course, most WTF people and places. Stay tuned next week as we continue on in Florida, heading to the Everglades with the self-described world's expert on skunk apes, AKA Bigfoot.