“We invited two wounded homeless men who were too ill to come,” wrote Mary Boykin Chestnut of the 1863 Christmas meal at her South Carolina plantation. “Others dropped in after dinner, without arms, without legs. Van Borcke, who cannot speak because of a wound in his throat. Isabella said, ‘We have all kinds now but a blind one.’ Poor fellows, they laugh at wounds and yet can show many a scar.” As the war dragged on, Christmas in the South remained a time of grin-and-bear-it celebration, even as the Lost Cause grew more desperate and it became clear that Santa Claus, as rendered by New York cartoonist Thomas Nast, was indeed on the side of the Yankees. Chestnut’s recollection and Nast’s drawings of St. Nick are featured in Kevin Rawlings’ definitive We Were Marching on Christmas Day: A History and Chronicle of Christmas During the Civil War. Rawlings, dressed as Nast’s Patriotic Civil War Santa, will discuss Christmas on the war and home fronts at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 12089 Rockville Pike, Rockville. Free. (301) 881-0237. (Eddie Dean)