A Mississippi Delta Christmas

Delta Bohemians Madge and Corinne pointing to The Golden Child (aka Poor William) Photo by DB

Delta Bohemians Madge and Corinne pointing to The Golden Child (aka Poor William) Photo by DB

(Clarksdale, Mississippi) VIDEO IN POST

A story about a Mississippi Delta Christmas.

In Poor William’s ‘umble estimation, The Mississippi Delta hosts no finer Christmas night party than the one shared for 45 years by the Howells, Johnsons, and Connells. It includes hot Southern delicacies such as rare beef tender, lovingly stuffed twice-baked potatoes, vino extraordinaire, salad with artichoke hearts and hearts of palms, mushrooms so fine one wants to “jump back and kiss hisself,” and laughter and memories recounted galore.

Roundman is gone, as is Willis and Susan Connell. The void left by their departure is almost unfathomable on Christmas night; we all just hold on to extraordinary memories of fine times had and laughter shared.

Christmas night at the Howell house is a beacon to the past and future, but experienced existentially in the present. All of us look to this night as a reaffirmation of a shared life well lived, and the hope of many more to come for those of us “up to bat” next.

We laugh, we almost cry, and we roast one another with love. Poor William and his younger sibling Frank joke (well sorta) about which one of us is the wisest (for sure not Poor William), has the most favor among those present, and who shines the brightest for all to see or not to see.

Poor William, known as the Golden Child for the Marshall Bouldin portrait of him as a child (his sister has one but she is not allowed to compete for the title), realizes that he is in the presence of greatness when Frank is around. After all, he was the Baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant many moons ago and his new bride refers to him as the Chosen One. Poor William can’t compete with that!

Listen to the accompanying short intro to the evening and the non-rehearsed prayer given in the Howell foyer by Poor William, since the Chosen One was visiting his in-laws on the east coast. May God bless the three families for years to come and may the family members bless others in His name!






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  1. Mollie Vincent says:

    Billy, loved the ms delta christmas–wish i could have been there—but it just proves that all families and traditions are the same—there is always love, hope, and a little craziness 🙂

  2. Well said Mollie! The Howell family Christmas is repeated in a thousand homes in thousands of towns across America! Love, hope, and a little craziness is a fine menage a trois of traits, which make family traditions well worth putting up with family! Thanks! Poor William

  3. Whittington1960 says:

    Billy! Enjoyed the vicarious participation in your Christmas tradition. We, too, have a Marshall Bouldin family shrine – it’s of our own Golden Child – William III’s full-body likeness, casually clasping the collar of the Bassett-hound-of-the-moment with the Seven Acres family estate looming in the background. Liz and I have mere pastel, whimsical Victorian head-shots, now relegated to a corner in our dining rooms. 🙂

    • Norma, that is too funny! I had more fun trying to figure out who wrote this! It was not hard, just a lot of fun! I noticed the 1960 first, then remembered (somehow) that your middle name was Whittington, and of course the William the Third reference and Liz’s name brought it all home! Your articulation is priceless: “family shrine,” “full-body likeness,” “Bassett-hound-of-the-moment,” “Seven Acres family estate” (where you once fooled me big time with a faux skunk that you made look so real, and of course, the “mere pastel, whimsical Victorian head-shots,” all PRICELESS!

      It’s funny: I was just thinking about Elizabeth. Madge and I are going to watch the Fellowship of the Ring in a little while; she has never seen it! I read the books when I was in the 7th and 8th grade, and I remember Elizabeth was as into it as was I.

      I remember her in the foyer, where The Golden Child hangs indeed, casting a watchful eye designed to ensure that appropriate homage and obeisance is paid to his virtual, pastel likeness , holding up a mythical non-existent sword and calling out Aragorn’s name with the innocent vigor of a romantic! I even remember where I was standing beneath The Golden Child and that she was to my right beneath the stairs, and I can still see her smiling face!

      Also, I remembered fondly the other day when we were playing down in the Mill Creek behind my house in the 7th grade, and we tried to float in a plastic swimming pool and it sunk and we waded out of the yuck-muck that we were sinking in! All such fond memories of the innocence of our youth! Alas, I do not have a full-body likeness either! What are we to do? …:)

  4. Billy, I remember your Marshall Bouldin portrait and Lou’s too. But, I don’t remember you ever looking anything like your golden child portrait! You looked (and acted) like that great southern romantic named Tom Sawyer. Now Lou always did and still does look like the angel child in her portrait.

    Of course I remember Norma’s, Liz’s and Bill’s too! What I can’t figure out is why my parents had our portraits done in Italy instead of by our home grown awesome artist Marshall Bouldin. My guess is that the one is Italy was much cheaper. It depicted the four of us together in an orange fire and was so hid·e·ous that it was passed over by each sibbling and given to me. The portrait literally went up in flames when my home burned down a decade ago. Good riddance, I declared. The best thing about that fire is that it destroyed that portrait and cleaned out my closet!

    • Susan, you are way too funny! What is it about Deltans and our portraits or the lack therof? Thanks for sharing your remembrance! My strongest memory of you was how Lou would get asthma attacks when you wore Jungle Gardenia perfume! Am I remembering that correctly or am I in error as I too often am? BUT, LOU, ANGEL? Surely you speaketh not of my feline sibling the younger? HA! 🙂

  5. Lorrdy Mercey, for a minute there I thought I was going to have to beg your forgiveness based on TDD, Temporary Delusional Disorder. But I did not say Lou was an Angel. Read them words again, Mr Little Poor William. Lou’s was No Angel. I simply declared she “LOOKED LIKE” NOT that she WAS an angel. Lou just tried to appear oh so innocent. How could I forget that it was Miss Martha Louis who handed me my first cig which immedialy led to a 12 year addition. The demon was only Exorised from my body after I was hung upside down by my toenails! And then there were the parties and sleepovers at The Outing Club which were banned after Lou’s brush with Asthma Death scared the living daylights out of my parents.

  6. What fun! And how wild to remember LOTR. I had forgotten you were such a fan-goodness, I always did have a killer imagination. I am imagining you and your antics now, cutting up like you used to, and laughing. This burst of Mississippi has me using old expressions I haven’t used in years-before I know it, I’ll be fixin’ to do everything again instead of saying “Oy Vey!” all the time.

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