You know it's almost Christmas in Sweetwater when Coach David Mayes has his lights up counting down the days to the 25th of December.
But how did the yearly tradition begin? Sweetwater resident Kandy Myers was curious — just as most of us are — and took her investigation directly to the Mayes to find out how the countdown started.
"It's always been such a big focus of the city," said Myers. "I met with Ginny Mayes and asked if anyone had ever ran an article. When she told me no, I thought something should be done." Myers had Mayes travel back down memory lane to share with her as well as the community, about the "Christmas Countdown" house.
Coach David Mayes moved to Sweetwater in 1980 where he began coaching the Sweetwater Mustangs and teaching math. In 1982, he married Genevieve 'Ginny' Mayes and they have lived at 306 Lamar, the 'Christmas Countdown house' for 28 years.
The Mayes loved children and they wanted to do something special for the children of Sweetwater at Christmas. With David being a math teacher at Sweetwater High School, he came up with the idea of a 'countdown' until Christmas. He chose the upstairs window to place the homemade countdown board for all to see as they drove down Lamar Street and also for the students entering Sweetwater Middle School in the morning.
On Thanksgiving night, the numbers are turned on and every morning the numbers are changed by hand by Coach Mayes or his wife. A favorite family memory is when one of the daughters, Elyse, wanted to start changing the numbers. Later in the day someone mentioned the numbers were backwards; once again, Coach Mayes assumed the duty of changing the numbers.
The Mayes have four children: Elizabeth (25), Kendall (23), Elyse (21) and Kristopher (17). It's always been fun for the Mayes to hear stories from their children's friends about making their parents drive by the house to see the days until Christmas. It is very special to see children's faces light up when they are introduced to the Mayes' as the ones with the Christmas Countdown in the window. Squeals and big smiles are treasured.
"How many days until Christmas? Just drive past 306 Lamar for the exact number of days until Christmas.
Merry Christmas from the Mayes!