BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- Christmas came clear and sunny across this hurricane zone, a glorious Gulf Coast day for Katrina’s survivors to draw together in their houses of worship and around their dinner tables to count their blessings.
With the horror of the storm now nearly four months behind them and signs of rebirth all around, it was a day for family and friends, football and feasting. From FEMA trailers to living rooms that never took a drop of water, there were loved ones to hug, gifts to unwrap and stories to share.
At First Missionary Baptist Church in Bay St. Louis, Pastor Alan Jenkins read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Book of Luke to a full house.
When the sermon and music ended, parishioners turned their full attention to the children among them to hand out a mountain of Christmas presents, most of them delivered by a delegation from We Care of Baldwin County, Ala. The sanctuary became a sea of wrapping paper as toddlers and teens alike marveled at gifts from jeans to keyboards.
At Waveland’s Word of Faith Christian Fellowship, members and neighbors shared a low-key noontime Christmas meal of sandwiches and chips. The church had put the word out that all comers were welcome and expected 50 to 100 people, said Gil Gilchrist, a visiting pastor from Sequim, Wash. Gilchrist said a Christmas Eve dinner drew 450.
Led by patriarch C.C., the McDonald family of Bay St. Louis gathered in the kitchen for a blessing before tucking into a meal of ham, turkey, stuffing and green-bean, spinach and pineapple casseroles.
C.C. built the house about 30 years ago for a customer and it later returned to the family when his brother David bought it. Just a block from the beach, and surrounded by destroyed and flooded buildings, the single-story home was almost entirely unscathed by Katrina.
Snippets of how C.C. and his wife, Eve, rode out the storm in the home were matched with recollections from C.C.’s nephew, Andrew McDonald, and his mother, Frances, whose two-story house on Washington Street filled with nearly five feet of water. They were joined for dinner by C.C. and Eve’s daughter Wendy McDonald and your MSNBC crew before taking a walk to the beach in the bright, crisp winter air.
Artist Ellis Anderson received a slingshot as a gag gift, but it became a hit at her Christmas party when nearly everyone in attendance tried out the toy. Click 'play' to see Ellis and her friends shoot a few rounds. (John Brecher / MSNBC.com)
Across town, at the painstakingly restored schoolhouse that Ellis Anderson calls home, a dozen folks gathered to share a big Christmas feast, sip champagne and try out the slingshot that a friend had given Ellis for Christmas –- with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it might come in handy for the well-known community activist’s dealings with local government.
“They say you know you’re really in the South when you start drinking and shooting things,” someone joked.
But humor and Christmas cheer appeared to be in far greater supply than marksmanship as no one proved able to plunk a pumpkin target at 100 paces.
Trackbacks are links to weblogs that reference this post. Like comments, trackbacks do no appear until approved by us. The trackback URL for this post is: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b0aa69e200d834a33e1269e2