Guest Post: Homecomings are at the Heart of "Christmas at the Homeplace" by William Leverne Smith

                                        Homecomings are at the Heart of “Christmas at the Homeplace”

Several “homecomings” are at the heart of the stories in “Christmas at the Homeplace.” Are homecomings important in your family? They sure are in ours.

I am writing this on Veteran’s Day. Many of the stories I see online and on the television focus on Veteran’s returning from overseas service for the holidays. One of these stories is a core story in “Christmas at the Homeplace.” Sergeant Travis Inman has been away from his family, serving a tour of duty in Bosnia, during 1996. His unit is supposed to get home before Christmas, but will they, is the question being asked by his family in Oak Springs. He has a young son, Zach, who is anxious to see his father, again. But, he also has a daughter, Kayla, born early in the year, after he had already deployed. Does this story sound familiar to you? It is familiar to far too many of us. Homecomings are special, for sure.

Karen (Bevins) Winslow is the widowed oldest of the Bevins siblings around whom our Homeplace Saga stories revolve in the 1980s and 1990s. All four of her children have not been home (where she now lives, at the Homeplace) at the same time since their father’s funeral over three years earlier. It seems there is always one of them four missing, when the others can get together. Has this happened in your family? [My four brothers and I have not been in the same place, at the same time, since our mother died in 1999… as an example]

Karen’s oldest son, Matt, has now moved, with his young family, to Oak Springs from the east coast, so he is no longer a concern. He is there. Lori, the oldest daughter, is a flight attendant based in LA. Will she be able to make it back this time? Or, will she have even more shocking news to share as the holiday approaches? Erin, now in Austin, Texas, is expecting her first child soon. Will she be able to make the trip? Kevin, the youngest, is very involved in his research lab and work in Tucson. But, is there more going on there that his mother is yet to learn? What hurdles do they all face to make it “home” for this Christmas? Sound a little like your extended family? I hope so. This is just one more in the continuing set of stories in this historical fiction family saga with which I hope you can identify.



The approach of holidays often brings surprises, out of the blue, as well. Peter Bevins, the youngest of the Bevins siblings, got one of those surprises on October 24th, 1996. A lawyer from Oregon, where Peter had lived for a number of years, appeared at his front door with news that would forever change his life. This was a fun story to write, as sad as some aspects of it were, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Do you like surprises? I really don’t, but they are a critical part of the life of every family. How we deal with these events largely shapes what kind of a family we will become.

Please note that each of these homecoming issues relate to how our characters, our family members, interact with one another. These interactions are the key component of good family stories, to me. These are what I enjoy writing about and sharing with you, my readers. I hope you agree with me. I’d love to get your reactions to the several story lines when you read “Christmas at the Homeplace.” I’m always available at my blog, on Facebook, and via my email accounts. I look forward to hearing from you.

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