Natchez family continues Christmas tradition that's lasted seven generations

Published 10:56 am Monday, December 11, 2017

NATCHEZ — For seven generations of Whitams, Liberty Hall at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and State streets has been the place to be at Christmastime.
Sunday at the house, father and daughter duo Greg and Laura Whitam prepared for a “small” holiday gathering this year.
“This year, we’ll only have like 20 (people),” Laura said.
Not everyone would refer to a get-together of that size as “small,” but it pales in comparison for a family that normally corrals more than 70 people for the annual celebration.
Also new this year are the house’s decorations — Greg and Laura worked Sunday to adorn the front porch with a real, homemade garland of magnolia leaves.
“We’re trying to do something different this year,” Greg said.
The longstanding tradition continues with Laura, who is the only child of Greg and his wife, Lisa Whitam.
“I’m the seventh generation to live in this house,” Laura said.
The two worked tediously throughout the day to prepare the home, as did the matriarch of the family.
“(Lisa) is the one who did all the work,” Greg said.
By late Sunday afternoon, the father and daughter were scrutinizing over the porch’s décor. Though Greg insisted the two are far from perfectionists, he and Laura ensured that the magnolia leaves hung at just the right length to evenly frame the front door.
Inside the house, the Whitams’ Christmas tree towers over the living room, soon to be the site of a “buffet-style” Christmas lunch.
Laura said the family would take all of the furniture out of the living room to make space for more tables, literally clearing the way for a long line of Whitam relatives.
After years of Christmas celebrations at the house, the tradition has become an engrained part of the Whitams’ life.
“This is who we are,” Greg said.
After years and years of family gatherings, the historic “party house” continues to be where the Whitams go to be home for the holidays.
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