The Christmas Letters
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Here, in a letter of her own, Lee Smith explains how she was inspired to write this celebrated epistolary novel:
Like me, you probably get Christmas letters every year. I read every word and save every letter. Because every Christmas letter is the story of a life, and what story can be more interesting than the story of our lives? Often, it is the story of an entire family. But you also have to read between the lines with Christmas letters. Sometimes, what is not said is even more important than what is on the page.
In The Christmas Letters, I have used this familiar format to illumine the lives, hopes, dreams, and disappointments of three generations of American women. Much of the story of The Christmas Letters is also told through shared recipes. As Mary, my favorite character, says, "I feel as if I have written out my life story in recipes! The Cool Whip and mushroom soup years, the hibachi and fondue period, then the quiche and crepes phase, and now it's these salsa years."
I wrote this little book for the same reason I write to my friends and relatives every holiday--Christmas letters give us a chance to remember and celebrate who we are.
With warmest greetings, Lee Smith
Christmas Letters a touch of the devil in him, and so I kissed his lips, and squeezed his hand, and sat there with him all day long while he slept as peaceful as a child until the late afternoon when he stirred a bit and then was gone, along with a little breeze that blew through the house just then like an angel passing. At first I did not see how I could go on alone, but we have to, don’t we? We have to do what we have to do, and God will give us the Strength for it, as I have learned, bless
Sandy’s and my first Christmas dinner together (yesterday). It was a riot! We had a baked hen which barely fit in my oven (I am trying, Mama!) and oyster casserole which did not work out because I used smoked oysters instead of the real other kind which I guess you are supposed to use. (I had bought these flat square little cans of oysters at the Piggly Wiggly, they were very expensive and blew my whole food budget for the week, but I thought you had to have oyster casserole on Christmas, Mama. I
go on and on. . . . (No doubt this is the same impulse which used to lead me to write The Small Review!). Anyway, I don’t know whether it was that coffee or pure excitement, but I couldn’t sleep a wink all night long. I lay snuggled up to Sandy like a spoon in a drawer and listened to Andrew make his snuffly little sounds in sleep, and peeped out the porthole window at my portion of the sky, which was full of whirling flakes, no two alike in the universe, and thought about my baby, and my
anything. Not a damn thing. Nothing. I was shell-shocked, immobilized. This was followed by a period when I did too many things. Marybeth, who has been through it, wrote to me about this time, saying, “Don’t make any big decisions”—very good advice, and I wish I’d followed it. Instead, I agreed to a separation agreement, then to a quick no-fault divorce, then to Sandy’s plan of selling the house P.D.Q. I just wanted everything over with—the way you feel that sudden irresistible urge to clean out
uncharacteristically silent in the center of that conversation which whirled and eddied all about him, a rock in the midst of the current. Sandy ate three or four pieces of chicken and praised it extravagantly. He and Daddy were deep into a discussion about what the government ought to do about draft dodgers when Joe slipped away. It was the first time I ever remember him slipping away like that, and it was the last time Sandy and I were to see him before I had my baby and Joe was drafted. Only