Happy Holidays!

Christmas, in the house in which I grew up in Memphis’s Morningside Park, was a festive season. My mother, whose name was Shirley Crossan Francis, was a member of the tribe my contemporaries and I now consider the last of the true Southern belles. Were my mother alive, she’d be ninety. She didn’t believe in half-measures, and was a champion of tradition and perfect form. When I think of her now, I think of her many graceful gestures.

Lately, I’ve been going through what seems like endless mounds of scrapbooks my mother kept. They are huge volumes, all dated, and the space these forty-some-odd books take up is staggering. Organizing the scrapbooks has been one of the tasks I’ve put by the wayside “for another day,” but I’ve run out of excuses during the pandemic. Because we’re approaching Christmas Day, I’m sharing some of the photographs I’ve come across. It’s my way of saying happy holidays. May you all make the most of the holidays and create wonderful, new memories. Don’t forget to hold your memories of the past in your heart, and to build that foundation with joy!

The alcove at the end of the dining room.

Another angle of the dining room that goes into the parlor.

The Christmas Tree in the Parlor
The House in which I grew up

In speaking of my mother, above is a portrait Memphis artist, Charles Inzer, drew of her. She was never partial to this portrait, and I do have others, but I took the liberty of using it for a graphic for my novel, 12-time award winner, Mourning Dove. In seeing these photographs, it may be clear to you from where I drew inspiration for Mourning Dove, which I set “on the genteel side of 1970’s Memphis, where all that glitters isn’t gold.” When one writes a novel with a particular point in mind, one draws from what one knows!

Happy Holidays!


26 thoughts on “Happy Holidays!

    1. It was used as the setting for an independent film based on Peter Taylor’s wonderful, Memphis set book, The Old Forest. I have always LOVED that book! I remember the film crew that came to the house. Might have been in the early 1980’s… They also used the house across the street. It was a big deal for “Hollywood to come to town!”


    1. Thank you so much. This house was in my family for 3 generations. I described it thoroughly in Mourning Dove, as I did with the WAY of life beneath its roof and the attendant periphery. It now seems a way of life from a long gone era. I certainly don’t live this way, but nostalgia is an interesting companion, and I did want to capture the milieu as best I could, with an eye to “all that glitters is not gold” because the vagaries of life is unchanging, no matter the setting. Thank you for your comment, Michael. I appreciate it!


  1. Wow, what a beautiful Christmas display in your lovely home. And such a lovely tribute to your mother Claire. Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season. ❤


  2. Dear Claire, thank you for sharing this wonderful array of memories with us. That portrait is a treasure, and I’m sure the scrapbooks are too, no matter how much space they require.
    I love the rounded side of the house. I don’t know why but that shape always gives flight to my imagination. Stay safe and well.
    Hugs on the wing.


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