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In UPtv’s ‘Small Town Christmas,’ Megan Alexander Seeks True Community Spirit

In UPtv’s ‘Small Town Christmas,’ Megan Alexander Seeks True Community Spirit December 2, 2021

Megan Alexander is host and executive producer of UPtv’s ‘Small Town Christmas’

Many traditional Christmas celebrations went on a pandemic hiatus in 2020, but lots have come back strong in 2021, and UPtv is chronicling some of them in the series Small Town Christmas, premiering Sunday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The host and executive producer is Inside Edition correspondent and author (Faith in the Spotlight, One More Hug) Megan Alexander, and she knows a thing or two about Christmas, as she told me in a phone interview.

“I’ve just always been a Christmas fanatic my entire life,” says Alexander.

“I’ve just always been a Christmas fanatic my entire life,” says Alexander.” It goes back to my love of The Nutcracker when I was a small, small girl, and my parents took me to see that ballet. And I just, to this day, I think it’s the most gorgeous music ever created, and there’s just something so magical about Christmas Eve because of The Nutcracker.

“So, my whole life I’ve been into it. In college, we had the dorm room that was super-decorated for Christmas. I throw an over-the-top Christmas party every year. I walked down the aisle to The Nutcracker, even though I got married in January.

“I’m just one of those people that has always loved Christmas. I start early. I decorate August, September, and I’ve been known to keep it up until Easter.”

So, when the world started to open up, Alexander had an idea.

“I love to travel, too,” says Alexander. “And, as I have three little kids and, as they are growing up with me, we love to visit other cities and just see what they do for Christmas. What’s their spin on hot cocoa, or what do their decorations look like?

“I just thought to myself during COVID, I was missing that element so much, of the travel and seeing how other people do the holidays. I just said, ‘This would be a great show and, if I could put this together when things start lifting, I just think this would be a neat show.’ And as I talked to friends about it and family members, everyone said, ‘Oh, my gosh! I would watch!’ So, you figure that’s a pretty good reaction.”

The first town up is Branson, Missouri; others include Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Natchitoches, Louisiana; and Summerville, South Carolina.

“Our first episode is in Branson, Missouri,” says Alexander, “and the joke in that town is the day after Halloween is the first day of Christmas — and that is very true.”

Obviously, this wasn’t filmed last year, so, as soon as the decor went up in some towns, Alexander was there (along with visiting some year-round Christmas stores).

“Our first episode is in Branson, Missouri,” says Alexander, “and the joke in that town is the day after Halloween is the first day of Christmas — and that is very true.”

Christmas is all over TV these days, but it’s rare that Christ actually makes an appearance. That’s not true of Small Town Christmas.

Says Alexander, “Well, UPtv said, ‘Go for it. We love it. Include all of these faith and religious moments that you want to.'”

Small-town Christmas has become a staple of movies on Hallmark Channel and other places, even if the towns are more fairytale than realistic. But one thing they get right — in small towns, connections matter.

“The local business aspect of promoting each other and talking about each other,” says Alexander, “keeps them humming. They know that if they are known for something or unique. Again, the local bakery, people are going to create a memory by going there and getting their particular slice of Yule Log cake.

“There’s a heart-connection perhaps with the local businesses that we lose maybe in the bigger cities. It still feels like there’s one or two flower shops, there’s one or two bakeries, and they’re family-owned. I will also say that they are family-owned for generations.

“We visited a Five & Dime store in Branson that this family has owned and goes way back, and there’s a pride in, ‘You knew my father, you knew my grandfather. So, I think that’s different.

“In America, people also want to buy homemade. They want to support local businesses. They want to buy homemade and know the person that’s handing you that package when you purchase it, know their story.”

“What a lot of people have been reflecting on is, ‘Who am I? What’s my identity and how am I thinking beyond myself?'”

With all the personal and career disruptions caused by the pandemic, lots of folks have been re-evaluating what matters in their lives, and how other lives matter to them.

“What a lot of people have been reflecting on is, ‘Who am I? What’s my identity and how am I thinking beyond myself?’,” says Alexander. “If I could share one thing with you, Kate, it is that these small towns are constantly thinking about something other than themselves. They’re thinking of their neighbor … and so much of it is volunteer. They don’t get paid to do this.

“The long hours that they put in decorating the tree, preparing the church for Christmas, it’s all volunteer and that comes back to purpose and meaning. ‘What am I getting out of life? How am I giving back?’

“In small towns, there’s very much a focus beyond yourself. ‘How am I contributing to this community and the staying power of this community? How am I ensuring that the next generation gets this experience as well?'”

Doing Small Town Christmas has also made Alexander think more about her own home city.

She says, “I found myself telling my family, ‘I want to go back to our church in Nashville and find out how they prepare for the Christmas Eve service and just be more part of the preparation of it all.’ I’ve really been so impressed and overwhelmed with the volunteer hours that go into preparing things that we take for granted, like a Christmas Eve service.”

Click here to learn more about Small Town Christmas.

Image: UPtv

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About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is an entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Catholic production company Family Theater Productions and a screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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