If there’s one thing the incomparable Dolly Partonis known for, possibly even more so than country music, is her heart of pure gold.
She’s become an icon because she’s obviously an incredible talent in the music world, but I think it’s safe to say that what most people admire about her is what an amazing person she is.
Through philanthropic efforts like her Imagination Library Foundation, giving back is always at the top of her to-do list.
A helluva reputation, to be sure.
She famously grew up dirt poor in the mountains of east Tennessee with 11 brothers and sisters, though she always notes how much love they had in their family, even if everybody in their area was poor with three o’s.
And back on her 2020 Holly Dolly Christmas Special, she told the heartbreaking, and very touching, story of a Christmas she remembers vividly from childhood.
Her church had decided to put a little bit of money aside so all the families could get presents that year, including the mom’s, and especially the kids:
“The church had thrown in a little money to where everybody could have a little grab bag.
‘Cuz we had services, and everybody around our parts were very poor, so everybody was gonna get a little Christmas present. Even the grown-ups, the women, and you know, especially the kids.
So I remember this one particular time that Mama had so many kids that they were giving all the presents out to all Mama’s kids, so Mama didn’t get one.”
She remembered a lady from her church asking her Mama, Avie Lee, if it was okay that she didn’t actually get anything.
Of course, she told her she understood, but as Dolly mentions here, everybody’s a kid at Christmas and her mom actually cried a little bit over it.
Now I’m sure there was probably a lot more to it than the fact that she wanted some new material item, and even as a young child, it broke Dolly’s heart to see her mom upset:
“So I remember this one lady saying, ‘Well, Avie Lee, you won’t mind will you? ‘Cuz you have so many of the kids, they got so many presents.’
So of course Mama, everybody’s a kid at Christmas, and I remember momma saying, ‘No, no, no. I understand. I understand that.’
So I saw Mama over there, sittin’ on the bench crying.”
Dolly being the sweetheart that she is, she wanted to do anything to help and make the situation better, so she walked over there and told her mom she wanted her to have her present.
Dolly remembers her mom saying no, because of course she wasn’t going to take her daughters new Christmas present.
A bit choked up herself, Dolly has never forgotten that moment and what her Mama told her:
“She didn’t make any noise, but I went over and I said, ‘Mama, you can have mine!’ She said, ‘No, no, honey, I don’t want yours. But I love you because of your good heart.’
So because of Mama, I’ve always tried to have a good heart.”
Mrs. Dolly is good people, and she clearly comes from good people.
She has a salt of the earth family, as they say, and she’s been able to inspire the world because of that simple reassurance from her late mother that probably didn’t seem like such an important moment at the time.
Even saying she has a good heart feels like an understatement…
It’s incredible how she’s never lost touch with who she is and where she comes from, even being a beloved international superstar and cultural icon for decades at this point, and I think a lot of that thanks goes to Mrs. Avie Lee Parton: