As a young child in the early 1900s, writer and civil rights crusader Lillian Smith lived an idyllic, small-town life. Of the many customs by which her and her eight brothers' and sisters' days were ordered, none are so fondly remembered by Smith as those of the Christmas season.
With a lighthearted touch, she recalls such times as when the family hosted forty-eight chain-gang convicts, along with their guards, to a holiday feast and the time her older brothers almost bought an elegant coffin for their parents' gift. Of far greater meaning to Smith, however, are the remembered rituals, the year-after-year sights, sounds, smells, and tastes: first the hog killings and the shaking of the pecan trees just around the time Big Granny, Little Granny, and a cousin or two began to arrive; then making gifts and hanging stockings; and finally the big day, filled with presents, shooting firecrackers, and too much homemade candy, six-layered coconut cake, and "sweet potato pone, fancied up."
These and many more memories are here for our enjoyment. All are related against the joyful noise of children, imaginations unbridled, as they run through a house and yard that never quite ends and always offers new places to hide and new opportunities for adventure and mischief.