"You think of Christmas, you think of Mariah."

Dolly Parton knows the holidays are for giving, not for fighting.

The legendary singer-songwriter, who has a known love of all things Christmas, shut down the idea of competing for the title of Queen of Christmas with fellow vocal icon Mariah Carey, who filed to trademark the moniker last year.

"Now, don't you say that! I'm not going to compete with Mariah," Parton told Better Homes & Gardens in a new cover story. "I love her. You think of Christmas, you think of Mariah. I'm happy to be second in line to her."

Dolly Parton rehearses for the 2016 Christmas in Rockefeller Center; Mariah Carey performs onstage during her "All I Want For Christmas Is You" tour at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2019 in New York City.
Dolly Parton says she won't compete with Mariah Carey to be the Queen of Christmas.
| Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

While Parton has gracefully crowned Carey the one true holiday matriarch, a serious case could be made for why the newly minted Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee should be featured on Santa's shortlist. After all, Parton has released three Christmas albums — 1984's Once Upon a Christmas (with Kenny Rogers), 1990's Home for Christmas, and 2020's A Holly Dolly Christmas — and her Tennessee theme park, Dollywood, gets decked out in millions of twinkling lights as part of its Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration each year.

And that's not even including Parton's four festive films: 2013's A Country Christmas Story, 2016's Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, 2019's Christmas at Dollywood, and 2020's Christmas on the Square. Her upcoming special, titled Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas, is set to bring even more joy to the world when it airs Dec. 1 on NBC. 

Carey is, of course, equally and rightfully associated with the holiday due to her 1994 hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You," which has maintained such a festive spell over listeners that it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2019, 25 years after it was first released. Heck, even Parton performed a rendition of the Kris Kringle jingle with Jimmy Fallon in 2020. 

Carey told EW in 2019 that she's more than happy with the song's steady ascent to the Christmas stratosphere. "When it first came out, it was more of a gradual thing," she said. "It was popular, but it didn't have what it has now. I feel like people have grown up with the song and it's become a part of people's lives in terms of the way they celebrate the holidays. That makes me feel really proud as someone that loves Christmas so much."

This year, like Parton, Carey is the gift that keeps on giving. She has not only released The Christmas Princess, her latest children's book, but also just announced that she will film a two-hour prime-time Christmas concert at Madison Square Garden. Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All! will air Dec. 20 on CBS and Paramount+.

So, really, does it even matter who's wearing the crown when we're all being treated this holiday season?

Check out Better Homes & Gardens' new holiday digital cover story with Parton here.

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