Leila Sisson Case: Southern Christmas traditions are legendary

Published 10:00 am Monday, December 31, 2018

Everything has a beginning and an end, including years. The year 2018 is about to come to a close, and where did the 365 days go? For me personally, it has been a year of ups and downs, but mostly it’s been a good year. The babies in the family have grown by leaps and bounds and are toddlers; two in the family graduated Georgia Southwestern State University, but best of all there hasn’t been a major illness.
Our family Christmas celebration was filled with cake and calories, presents and surprises, laughter mixed with tears, and, of course, being together, except for a small contingent, to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Among the most festive events was the Ladies Literary Club’s Christmas lunch hosted by Angie Stevens Sprott at the white-columned, country home she shares with her husband Kevin Sprott in Schley County. It wouldn’t be Christmas without visiting Stevens Quarters. Angie pulls out all the stops and southern hospitality reigns supreme.
The setting is “old South” at its best. The house itself sits on a hilltop that is approached by a long curving drive that overlooks a rolling landscape of wide, green spaces. The house has quite an interesting history. Angie’s maternal great-grandfather, Jackson Stonewall Cowart, had it built for his bride Ida Camilla in 1910, near Arlington and where her grandparents and mother once made their home. Angie and Kevin and their children are the fifth generation to live in the structure which they had moved from its original location to the Stevens property in 1993.
There was music, sparkling wine and a traditional holiday meal Angie created in her kitchen with an assist from daughters, Rachel and Esther. You have to have willpower made of steel to resist a slice of each of the cakes she bakes: Japanese fruit, Lane, and coconut along with homemade eggnog and boiled custard. A delicious pound cake, a gift from Phyllis Argo delivered by Malcolm, also had a prominent place on the sideboard.
Blue Argo, guitarist, and Chris Walker, flautist, played Christmas melodies as everyone gathered — it was indeed a memorable Christmas event.
Among members and guests attending were Anne Isbell who brought her mother Mary Margaret Isbell; June Ewing brought her husband David; Carlanda Dragoin and her husband Bill, Seleta Rogers, Linda Fuller Degelmann, Nancy Peabody and husband Henry, Beth Lane, Shirley Litwhiler and guest Kent Sole, Nancy Harvey and guests Nancy and Greg McLaughlin of Grayton Beach, Florida, Jennifer Russell, Dongmei Wu and her elementary school daughter Betty Wu, and the Sprotts’ children, Rachel, Esther, Truxton, Hampton, and Donovan.
Another Christmas soiree is hosted by Charles Crisp and is another not to be missed festive event but too many guests to name. The event also harkens back to the south of old and is held at Charles’ 1892 Victorian two-story home on Taylor Street built by his great-great-grandfather, U.S. Congressman Charles F. Crisp. Other hosts were John and Whitney Crisp, Anthony and Kendall Dragoin, Easton and Stephanie Kinnebrew, Dick and Peggy Minor, Rick and Genie Powell, Justin and Rachel Arnold, Lee Harris, Bill Harris, Creighton Hodges and Rucker Smith.
Every family has its own Christmas traditions. Cousins Beth Alston of Americus and Gayle Alston of Parrott joined Steve and Jan Alston and Andy Alston of Parrott for Christmas Day.
And we enjoyed having daughters, Helen Penter of Charlotte, and Margaret Herndon of Atlanta, for a long visit. We gather at Mark and Anne Barrett’s in Leslie on Christmas Eve and then Christmas morning we are at our house in Americus for brunch and to open gifts. If that isn’t enough fun we follow that with a late afternoon dinner at the Barretts’.
Now it’s time to hit the gym and join Weight Watchers but not before eating black-eyed peas over rice and collards New Year’s Day.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.