Even though Ma'Dere's boyfriend, Joe Black, is not a biological father to any of the kids (their real father abandoned the family), he loves them all and does everything he can to support them as a parent. He and Ma'Dere both appear to be trying to live a Christian life—even though they are living with each other out of wedlock.Before the family dinner, Joe prays for God's blessing, ending with, "Through Christ our Lord." Joe also talks to Quentin about church and tells him, "Church ain't something you 'do.' It's a place where you go to commune with God." (Quentin retorts, "I don't believe in your God, Joe.") Ma'Dere asserts her faith that the Lord will make it possible for her son to come home before he's sent back to the Marine base.Youngest girl Mel can't seem to make her way through college. Eldest son Quentin is a jazz saxophonist on the lam from debt-collecting thugs.Teenage boy Michael is still living at home but hiding a guilty desire.
And eldest daughter Lisa is trying to hold her own family together under the weight of an overbearing, manipulative husband.In the course of their three-day family reunion this troubled brood will also deal with a secret interracial marriage, a hidden pregnancy, a philandering husband, aggravated assault charges, a one-night fling, spousal abuse and a pending divorce.Christmas has always been an elaborate production at the Whitfield house.And matriarch Shirley Ann "Ma'Dere" Whitfield is eagerly anticipating the homecoming of her beloved family.And that's all In spite of the Whitfield's personal traumas and sibling squabbles, the one constant in this family is reemerging love.
They may argue, but they always come to each other's aid when the skies are really dark.