Live Oak —
By Jeffry Boatright, special to the Democrat
During early September while most people plan for Labor Day barbecues and late summer vacations, one Suwannee County couple begins decorating their home for Christmas. It is not difficult to find someone who might exclaim that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but few embark on nearly six months of putting out, displaying, and taking down Christmas decorations. Ken and Darthy Smith, however, are an exception to the rule.
Each year, the Smiths transform their 144th Street homestead into a winter wonderland that is speckled with Santa Clauses, snowmen, stuffed animals and Nativity scenes. With sincere warmth and genuine hospitality, Darthy explains that she and Ken truly enjoy the spirit of Christmas, but they especially enjoy sharing the joyous season with others.
“It is for the people from the Advent Christian Village that we do all of this,” Darthy explained. “It is for anyone else who appreciates it,” she added.
With pleasant smiles, Darthy and Ken explain how much their annual visitors from the ACV enjoy the short journey to take in the lights, Christmas trees, animated figures and an abundance of food that never fails to please.
Darthy’s reputation for preparing delicious food and treats precedes her and she successfully defends that reputation each year when residents from the ACV’s Dacier Manor arrive by bus and join the Smiths for an enchanted evening of Christmas cheer. In addition to Darthy’s mouthwatering chili and endless desserts, a birthday cake is provided, compliments of Dairy Queen of Live Oak. The cake simply says, “Happy Birthday Jesus.”
According to the Smiths, they have been hosting residents from the ACV for 14 years. Most of their guests from the Village are repeat visitors.
“One resident has attended 10 of the 14 years that we have been doing this,” Darthy stated.
The small bus from the ACV made its annual stop at the Smiths’ home on the evening of Dec. 9, with 14 residents and five helpers from Dacier Manor onboard. In addition to those in attendance from the ACV, a few other friends were available to lend a helping hand to Darthy and Ken. With the aroma of Darthy’s scrumptious food, laugher, conversation and genuine Christmas cheer filling the air, the magic of Christmas once again filled those in attendance with joy, which in turn, delighted their humble hosts.
Of course, the food and company was enjoyed by everyone, but the extensive decoration and work that has been put into the interior and exterior of the Smiths’ home is a highlight that cannot be overlooked.