There were nine of the Smith children, and the grandmothers and cousins, and there was a big house that never quite ended, and there were the smokehouse and hog-killing and the shaking of the pecan trees, and all the delicious doings that went on in a nineteenth-century kitchen, which lingered into the early decades of the twentieth century. But above all, there was a father who, as impresario and ritual maker, polished family events so that, as the author says,” Even today, a half century later, they blind the eyes with their shine.” She goes on to day, “But perhaps what holds it so fresh in my memory is the fact that along with all our physical play and work we lived a wild life of imagination: it was hard to keep it from spilling over into reality and painful when reality would step up and prune our flowering. That is why in this memory of Christmas in a small southern town there are sudden excursions to Versailles and the Hall of Mirrors and to the small-town Opera House and the jail in search of a Christmas gift for the parents; and it is why an elegant coffin could figure so prominently in the festivities. And why, one year, forty-eight ‘real’ convicts ate Christmas dinner with us.”
About the Author
LILLIAN SMITH (1897-1966) was a writer, teacher, lecturer, and civil rights activist. Born in Florida, Smith spent much of her life in Georgia. She is the author of seven books, including Killers of the Dream, Strange Fruit, and One Hour, and was also the founding editor of the magazine South Today.