Like the song says, “For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.”

We spend all year chasing Two Lane back road sunsets, exploring old towns, and searching for something we’ve never seen before. While on any other adventure, it would be nice to have a map to follow, the road home is one we know by heart. We all have the memory of turning our wheels onto that familiar street, our heart beats in anticipation of the family, food, gifts, and games waiting on the other side of the door. 

The bustle of the year can keep us busy, but the holidays are here to remind us to slow down, put work away, and unplug. Family and friends are gathering across the country to make memories with the ones they love, dust off cherished family heirlooms, and tell stories of the past while catching up on the present. There are many things to appreciate about this season, but here are our favorites. (Curious to know if y’all feel the same way.) 

Unpacking The Past

Keepsakes are capable of capturing decades of memories. It’s always so incredible how we unpack the pieces of our past every holiday, and they still manage to remain whole. Thinking about how we allow our minds to travel back to little happy moments of our lives when it was our job to hang that one special ornament, or thinking about the way your favorite toy felt in your hands. These heirlooms have become the tangible memories of our lives that we get to share with grandchildren, spouses, and friends.

Traditions Both Old and New

Holidays seemed so simple back when the toys we received didn’t require batteries or need to be charged. Sometimes it can feel like the holidays have gone too commercial. We crave that simplicity for playing outside all day until your shoelaces freeze instead of Instagramming our food. This is a great opportunity to show the current generation how to bond with family without cell phones, electronics, or Netflix. Get a game of jacks or pick up sticks going, grease up some sleds, go take a drive to see the lights, or just run outside all day until you can’t feel your toes.

Even more than games think about different decorations were! Real trees, real pine garland, going out and picking pinecones off the ground to paint for centerpieces. Holiday decor was less about LED candy canes and more about cranberry popcorn garland. It was more fun to be resourceful with nature than buying decor at a hardware store. 

No matter how simple or specific a tradition is, the point is that it is shared between the generations because someday it will be their duty to keep those special little moments alive for years to come.


Sensory Memories

It’s not just the smell of cookies that have a way of jogging our memories. Scents of family memories stick with us too! You can never forget those tight squeezes from your uncle that always smelt like pipe tobacco and cold air, or a hug from gramma that smells like old literature books and vanilla that’s spilled on her apron from being in the kitchen making that special dessert she only makes this time of year. 

Just as smells connect us to a memory, so does a song. All those years of gathering around the piano as your Aunt Susan lead the family in a never-ending round of singing “Jingle Bells”. The great thing about music memories is they don’t have to be from family sing-a-longs to be special. Maybe your dad always plays Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” while rigging up the lights Maybe your mom always played The Carpenter’s Christmas album while you decorated cookies to deliver to the neighbors. Speaking of baking…

Preparing Family Recipes

There are always those special treats and dishes that families whip up for a holiday feast: Gramma’s walnut pie, pumpkin rolls, maybe a secret recipe for the ham. Participating in the kitchen to stir, sift, mix, and measure gave you a behind-the-scenes look into your favorite dishes. Someday they’d be yours to prepare! 

A great lesson we learned in the kitchen was how it didn’t cost money to give gifts. Neighbors often exchanged homemade gifts like fudge, tea, ornaments, — gifts intended to be shared with the family. Maybe your family always made baskets filled with fruits, chocolates, and hard ribbon candy wrapped up in colored cellophane to deliver to those who were snowed in or unable to leave. It’s amazing was some sweets can do!

 If that wasn’t your style, you could always set the table, light the candlesticks, polish the silverware, or go gather pinecones for a centerpiece!


Cross Country Connections With Holiday Cards

We’ve mentioned in the past about the romanticism of writing a letter, and how that art of pen to paper is something that never goes out of style. For those of us that sent and received holiday cards, it was a chance to share with others updates on the kids as they grow, new adventures, and best wishes for the New Year. Gilded cards with delicate cursive salutations are on full display as you walk inside to the sounds of kitchen commotion, crackling fire, and the laughter of children playing. Making memories to write about in next year’s card. 

No matter if your home is large, small, bought, or rented, Traveling the Two Lanes road home means greeting the people and places that shaped our lives. While some people maybe be missing it, you know the season will still be special because traditions remain. Let us know your favorite holiday memory in the comments below.


Photos by Meghan Aileen


26 thoughts on “The Road Home: Our Favorite Two Lane Adventure”

  1. Marie Mersereau

    I call Ameerican Pickers my guilty pleasure – I love it – so I thank you all for the hours of enjoyment i get watching and wish all of you – cast and crew – the peacefulness of Christmas and the joy of family.

    Marie Mersereau
    Shrewsbury, MA

    1. Chris Esmond

      I love American Pickers so much! It’s a decent family program and Mike and Frank are a great 2 people to pick the best items to sell. I put myself in with them and it’s fun and I have learned so much from them. I am planning to buy several things. HAPPY PICKEN!!

  2. Linda Winslow

    Love Mikes show so much. So much fun seeing what his treasures are for the week. Have a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  3. Jean Edwards

    You grew up in Iowa, right? I am from Keokuk. Your story is so totally familiar ! You are right on on all aspects … my siblings and families still try to “come home “ at least twice a year to my 96 year old mom Who still lives in our childhood home.
    Our get away from technology is to load up the car, or two, and drive 3 blocks to Rand Park and drive through the “City of Lights” , an amazing display of separate scenes set up by Keokukians. It grows every year . Our family has a display in honor our dad.

  4. Sue Chepil

    Every Christmas my parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, all traveled to a small Arkansas town to the grandparents
    house for the holidays. It didn’t matter how late we all arrived Grandma was always up waiting with homemade
    candy and cookies and hot chocolate and coffee. What a fun time we always had.The gifts from the Grandparents
    were always homemade. How special every minute was and I would give anything to have a Christmas just like
    those days.

  5. Ralph Oard

    Hi Mike and Frank. Your show and all the items you purchase I am looking forward to coming to Iowa to see your store and hope that I finally get to meet you in person. Merry CHRISTMAS to all and please stay safe in your travels.
    Your Friend
    Ralph Oard

  6. Jaume sampera pont

    Buenos dias estoy interesado en comprar algo de John Deere antiguo ya que soy vendedor de la marca desde hace 37 años y me gustaria ponerlo en mi pequeño museo ya que llevo 37 años colecionando cosas de la marca ahora me gustaria un anagram de los primeros que salieron en fondo rojo haber si pueden enviarme alguna foto y el precio ,Yo soy de Cataluña .España ,

  7. Craig Shroades

    I remember going to my grandparents house on Christmas day where we would gather with all of my cousins, Aunt’s and Uncles. The aroma of fresh baked sugar cookies, ham and spices permeated the air as we walked in to need Grandma in the kitchen with her apron on. The wonderful part was that the house they lived in for over fifty years was small, and everywhere you were there was laughter and conversation. We would then, on occasion pile up in cars and drive down to the Old Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio to see the beautiful array of lights on the mill; millions of them twinkling, and immerse ourselves in the wonderful sights and smells. At the end of the day, Grandpa would put on his favorite cap and jacket and walk us all out to our cars; I’ll never forget his smile or the smell of his aftershave as he hugged us goodbye, until we meet again!

  8. Donna Wallace

    Mike, thank you for another wonderful article and thank you so much for your wonderful show and the awesome things you and Frank, Robbie and Danielle, Dave and all the other people that make it happened. I live in North Carolina and have been to both your locations, Twice to the Nashville location. And went to the 12 country stores that you recommended. Love to read about places to go on the two lane roads in the articles you send. Wish you all a Merry Christmas. God Bless you all. Donna Wallace

  9. Cheryl R

    Great read! Sensory memories are my strongest. Settle a bet please…Was Mike in Waynesville, NC on Dec 27th? We thought we spotted you 😉

  10. Deborah Danielson

    One of my best memories of Christmas that I started with our children was when we drew names for the making of an individual ornament for that one special person that piece of paper in your hand held. It was always exciting to see what each one came up with, until the day came when everyone was too busy with electronics to take the time to make that special ornament. But the memories linger on with the ones that were recieved and are now treasured. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Blessings

  11. Betty Putnam

    My grandparents lived in Kentucky and we lived in Illinois, so we rarely went there for Christmas because of the distance and we had animals to take care of at home. But one Christmas, we did go back and I was probably 10 years old and would have been in the late 40’s. Their house consisted of 3 rooms. Half of the house was the kitchen/dining room. The other half was a bedroom and the other room had the wood stove in it, a twin bed and full size bed, plus chairs to sit in around the fire. I slept with my aunt, in the twin bed and the folks were trying to put gifts from Santa around. I had talked grandma into using one of her socks (hose that stretched so I would get more). I think she ended up tying it in a knot so it was the same as the other kids. We probably got one small toy, apple, orange, nuts and stick candy. But it was special because we got to spend it with grandma & grandpa. Grandma died when I was 18 and grandpa a few years later but I will never forget them.

  12. J Barry and Renee P Montag

    My favorite Christmas memory is of my very large family – nine children and their children getting together in my parents very small home. That was a wonderful time, although we had to eat in shifts. My mother made the best food and the most delicious pies. I will never forget it. Also it seemed like we always had snow over the Christmas holidays at our rural PA home. We could sled ride on the hill right next to our house. WE enjoy your program and enjoyed visiting your Nashville store a year ago. Wishing you God’s Blessings for the New Year!

  13. Judy Jesse

    You should look at Chickamaua, Georiga. It is a civil war town. The town downtown iis still old. The train goes through it. There is a lot of history there is a 40 acre civil war park where the battle took place. Lots of back roads. A beautiful places to see. Judy Jesse

  14. Jan Beach

    One of my favorite Christmas memories was a Christmas when I was newly married. My husband and I were both from Florida, but we’re living in St. Louis, MO for his first job out of college. We both wanted to go home to FL for the holidays, but weren’t sure either of our cars could make the 32 hour round trip. We saw an ad in the paper that said a company in St. Louis needed a car delivered to FL. They’d pay expenses and pay for us to fly back home. Perfect! When we went to pick up the car that was to be delivered we found out it was a hearse! We had so much fun driving a hearse to FL going through drive-thrus with one of us laying in the back. We didn’t tell our families about the car so you can imagine their surprise when we pulled in the driveway. All the neighbors came out and got a good laugh. A great Christmas memory I will never forget.

  15. Tevna Leydecker

    The Times Before Current Days: Having walked the road of life through The Comet Y2K, I have collected much of my family history/artifacts and Intel. through it all. Today, in my gift for design, I have found more artifacts that I will be framing in plastic/glass frames for display, AND they have original inks that last l o n g (how amazing it is the compounds our elders had then). If you are keen to it, you understand. (smile and a hug)

  16. Red English

    Just watched the “Cheap Trick” episode, I am in awe of you and Frank, the entire crew, thank you, just thank you. nuff said.

  17. Denise Holfelder

    Love You Guys and Gals—-Thanks so Much for re Running Your shows in this Dilemma –I know Yuns Can’t Pick at this time –Just Wanted to Thank Yuns for All Your Shows on T.V. ? Let’s hope This Lumpucorue Passes and Hopefully things Will Get Back To somewhat Normal .– Ahh You guys remind me so much of my Dad… But Dad picked for Things he Could use on the farm . Ya he was a Wheeler Dealer Like You Guys . Ahh thanks and Be Safe . Love Your Show and Again Stay Safe – God Bless !!

  18. Marilyn Hicks

    I loved reading this about Christmas memories. We seemed to have gotten away from the true meaning of Christmas. This article says a lot. Let’s not forget about the Christ in Christmas.
    I love your program.
    Marilyn from Tennessee

  19. Marcia Bringen

    My fond memories are of alternating having Thanksgiving between my sister’s and our house. The entire family, mothers mother-in-laws, brothers, brother-in-laws, sisters sister’s-in-laws, nephews, a niece, husbands, my son and different friends would gather, each bringing a side dish to share. We filled the house with talk and laughter! Since everyone lived far apart, this was the holiday we all got together. Christmas was spent visiting members who lived within driving distance, going from one to another. A favorite was a sister-in-laws who baked tons of cookies and other goodies! I miss that now. ALL of my family is on the East Coast in MD and NC. I am the only one living out here in OR and it’s very sad for me to not be “Home” for the Christmas Hoiiday and I AM getting up there in years and so are they! (I’m the baby)
    Here’s hoping you have a joyous holiday season and may 2021 bring this country back together and the pandemic be wiped out!
    Marcy Bringen

  20. Dave Hochstetler

    I’ve seen every episode of American Pickers. Being originally from Indiana, I enjoy Mike and Frank’s midwestern kindness toward other collectors. The show often reminds me of my Dad going to a weekly auction and bringing home things my Mom fussed about.

    Merry Christmas!
    & Keep On Pickin’

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