The time is Christmas Eve, 1917, America is caught in the toils of World War I. Horace Robedaux and Elizabeth Vaughn, having married despite the objections of her parents, have rented rooms in the Pate house as they await the arrival of their firstborn. But the Pate house inhabitants prove to be more trouble than the young couple could have imagined. Bobby Pate, his wife having left him, has turned to drink; the eccentric George Tyler, heretofore a respected member of the community, is showing signs of a mental breakdown; and Elizabeth's younger brother is proving increasingly to be a disappointment to their rigid, success-oriented father. In the spirit of Christmas, however, Elizabeth's parents unbend and seek a reconciliation with the newlyweds, as Mr. Vaughn is prepared to build the young couple a home of their own. As the play ends, Horace and Elizabeth anticipate the birth of their baby with renewed hope for the future, and with spirits dampened by the tragic suicide of George Tyler and the continuing shadow of the Great War.
Part of a nine play cycle (including Lily Dale, Courtship, Roots in a Parched Ground, The Widow Claire and 1918 which chronicles the fortunes of the Robedaux family of Harrison, Texas, in the 1900s.