A Christmas Memory
Truman Capote (Juvenile Fiction)
There was something special about that late November morning: the air lacked the songs of birds; the courthouse bell sounded cold and clear; and the once-empty hearth boasted a blazing fire. All of these meant only one thing—it was fruitcake weather!
A Christmas Memory is Truman Capote’s earliest memories of his life in a small rural Alabama town. Up until the age of ten, he lived there with a family of distant and elderly cousins. One cousin, in particular, he was especially fond of and considered her to be his best friend. She called him “Buddy”, after her former best friend who died in the 1880’s, and he referred to her as simply “my friend”. Capote’s book is filled with his personal heartwarming memories of Christmas—beginning with the inaugural baking of the fruitcakes (which includes a charming visit to one Mr. Haha Jones) and followed by searching for the perfect tree, hanging wreaths on all the front windows, and making gifts for the family. Capote’s vivid descriptions and eloquent prose allow us to smell the fruitcakes baking in the oven and luxuriate in the warmth emanating from the home’s stone fireplace.
On Christmas Eve night, “my friend” confesses to Buddy her desperate desire to give him a bicycle for Christmas, but her inability to do so for lack of money. “It’s bad enough in life to do without something you want,” she laments, “but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want them to have.” During this time of year, we seem to be inundated with an endless barrage of commercials, movies, and television shows that all seek to remind us about the true meaning of Christmas through animated animals, complicated romantic triangles, or splashy musicals. I’m grateful for Mr. Capote for sharing his personal Christmas memory and for showing us in a loving, compassionate, and quiet way that we should be thankful not for the gifts that lie under our tree, but rather for those who gather around it.
* Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com