This is an excerpt from the Winter 1961 issue of The Notre Dame Sister, a publication from the Baltimore Province.
Although Charleston is not like any other place, Christmas in Charleston is, in many ways, like Christmas anywhere. Certainly there is the same Babe, the same Virgin Mother, the same silent foster father. There will hardly be snow on the ground for the Baby's birth. The night air is crisp and cool, though, and there is an odd rustle of leaves on the small sturdy palmetto palm trees. Balsams, imported from the colder North, are trimmed soon after their arrival in early December.
There is the usual caroling. Little groups of people, often students, go from place to place singing of His birth. They visit the hospitals, the orphanages, the old folks' home, the naval base hospital, the convents, and private homes...and the singers only dream of a "white Christmas."
Most of the sisters in our house can recall only one occasion when snow fell, and it lasted only until it touched the ground. Beautiful white flakes began to fall one day. Every teacher in town took her class outside to see and feel the magic of snow. There was not the usual whoop that northern youngsters let forth. These children put out their hands in sheer delight and held the flakes almost reverently in their open palms.
Our Christmas within the convent is a very wonderful time. Our bishop goes from convent to convent during the Christmas holidays, says Mass in the convent chapel, and afterwards stays for breakfast and a chat. There are only six or seven convents in and around Charleston, so the bishop's task is not an impossible one. It gives us a wonderful sense of belonging to the diocese.
For some years our sisters supplied the choir for midnight Mass at the military base chapels, both of which are situated quite close to Saint John's. We have always looked on this as a special privilege - to serve those who serve us so well.
The Christmas dinner is like the traditional dinners we have all enjoyed. Although we have never sat at table with a typical Charleston family, we would surmise that one other dish would be added. Surely they would have grits, or maybe hush puppies. Someone once told us that you could always get a Southerner excited by talking about the Civil War - and grits. (When one of the sisters had occasion to be in the hospital as a patient, she overheard a nurse say to the one who was getting the trays ready, "No grits for the Yankee sister in 325.")
We would like to be able to say that part of Charleston's great heritage is a strong, undaunted Catholicity, but that is not true. We have fervent Catholics here, but not nearly enough. Only one per cent of the people in the state are Catholics. These are a kind and gracious people. We pray that some day soon we may really know a "White Christmas" here in the "Old South."