Dolly Parton may be all country glam and glitter on stage, but when it comes to exchanging Christmas presents with her husband, their traditions are fairly low key and relatable.
The country superstar, 74, revealed in an interview with Red Online that she and her husband of 54 years, Carl Dean, usually exchange practical, thoughtful presents, and they sometimes even write each other songs and poems.
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“My husband, Carl, and I are pretty easygoing when it comes to gifts,” she said. “He’s a carpenter and a mechanic, so I keep an eye on what he’s missing or what he’s worn out and I’ll buy him tools or flashlights. He knows I love to cook, so he’ll buy me things like aprons or oven mitts.
“People laugh when they ask, ‘What did your husband buy for you?’ thinking I’ll say, ‘A diamond ring!’ He just buys me what he knows I really want,” she added. “I also write him songs and he writes me sweet poems. A poem inside a card is my favorite kind of gift.”
Parton also revealed one of her other delightful (and not so low-key) Christmas traditions: her annual Cookie Night.
“I don’t have kids of my own, but I invite all the children in the family around to my house in the run-up to Christmas, and they come at noon and stay the night, until noon the next day,” she said. “I get a few of my friends to come and help with the littler kids, and we eat pizza and make cookies.”
The singer even dresses up like Santa Claus as part of the tradition.
“I have an elevator in my house, and every Cookie Night, I dress it up like a chimney, with fake fire on it, and they all sit at the bottom waiting for Santa Claus,” she said. “I dress up as Santa and come out of the elevator with their gifts! I’ve been doing that for years, and they all look forward to it.”
This year, things will of course be different for Parton, as for many families. She said that while she and her husband won’t be able to throw the big family Christmas bash they normally do, they’re still hoping to connect with relatives, whether in a limited in-person setting or online.
“I’ll still try to make Christmas special this year. I have a couple of sisters and several nieces and nephews who live nearby in Nashville, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to spend Christmas with a limited amount of family,” she said in an interview with Good Housekeeping. “Of course, we’ll be calling all our friends, Zoomin’ and FaceTimein’ the ones who we won’t get to see. I’m just hoping we’ll find a way to be together safely. All I want for Christmas this year is joy and peace of mind."
She also revealed that she has been spending more time at home anyway because her husband has been having health issues.
"My husband, Carl, has not been in great health for a while, so I’ve been spending a lot of time at home anyway,” she said. “I live on a beautiful farm in Nashville, so we thank God we’re fortunate to have so much space. I never felt trapped because my mind goes wherever I want it to; I can always go to dreamland in my head. I’m pretty self-contained and I love being at home with family.”
Parton is on a mission to spread Christmas cheer this year, between her holiday album, “A Holly Dolly Christmas,” and her heartwarming Netflix Christmas musical, “Christmas On the Square.”
“People won’t have their full-blown Christmas like normal, so I thought I’ll do as much as I can to make people happy, make myself happy, and make it a more joyful Christmas,” Parton told Red Online. “I can’t wait to leave 2020 behind and look forward to a better, brighter future for all of us.”