home for the holiday letter 1880By now many of us are thinking about being home for the holidays. These verses stream through my mind:

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays, you can’t beat home sweet home

 Songwriters: Al Stillman / Robert Allen


Longing to be home for the holidays is nothing new. I’d like to share a letter written in 1880 by Maria Faison.  Born in Tennessee in 1862, Maria moved to La Grange, Texas about 1872 after her father inherited extensive property from his brother, Nathaniel W. Faison. Faison’s home is now a house museum in La Grange. By 1877, Maria was sent to the Virginia Female Institute in Staunton, Virginia. The Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives has a collection of seventeen of her letters home in which she talks about her daily activities, and it is apparent she loves the finer things in life. Against her wishes, she returned to Texas in 1882. She passed away on March 4, 1888, at 26.


Staunton, Dec 15

My Darling Parents,

Your last letter was received Monday; many thanks to all for the money. I do not know exactly what I will get with it yet. How I wish I could be at home a week, Christmas, if only for a week. Several of the girls intend going home to spend Christmas, and remain a week or two.

I know I would enjoy some of those nice things to eat, turkey, cheese, pineapples.

I was down the street this afternoon looking at Christmas things, but I could not find the things I wanted, and I am quite disgusted with the Staunton stores; there are so few pretty things in them this Christmas.

So aunty thinks that I have forgotten her; no indeed I have not, but I really have very little time for writing; I intend though to try and write to her oftener and make amends for the past. I am afraid she will forget me when she is a “rich, old aunty” sure enough if I do not. Cousin Annie Belle and cousin Bettie were both to see me this afternoon;’ both asked about you all and send love.

Cousin Annie said Cousin Ack Marable had lost one of her little girls;’ she was eight or nine years old and was her prettiest child I thought. She died very suddenly; I did not learn what was the matter with her.

All of the “Old girls” are invited to take tea with Meiss Florence tomorrow-night, and we are looking forward to it with a great deal of pleasure. She is so sweet to all of us; she calls us her girls, and says we still belong to her in a measure. One of the girls who was here last year came last night’ she is a Kentucky-girl; we expect another ‘old girl” next month.

Good night. Pleasant dreams and a Merry, merry Christmas” to you all. Kisses and much love to all from



My parents moved from Texas to West Virginia after I graduated from college. Since that point, I’ve never truly gone home for the holidays—their house didn’t seem like my home. Furthermore, as a child, our nuclear unit never spent the holidays with extended family because they lived in South Carolina and Alabama.

My children and grandchildren seldom come to my home for the holidays. They did not grow up on the ranch and have no connection to the area. Instead, they have developed their own traditions.

But we will be together this holiday season at my daughter’s house. To me, home is truly family and friends, that comfortable feeling of being loved and accepted, no matter where you are physically.

I’m wishing you peace and comfort this holiday season.


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