A Christmas Memory

Well, Christmas has come and gone once again.  It still lingers in a plate of leftovers or in a new favorite toy.  It’s recorded in a photo shared on Facebook, no doubt taken with the new iPhone you asked for and received.  And in a few days it will be time to usher out the “old” and say hello to the “new,” whether that be just by changing the calendar or celebrating traditions over the comings and goings of Father Time.

For the first time last year at Christmas, I read Truman Capote’s short story “A Christmas Memory.”  I decided I would make it a tradition of my own to read it each year.  Earlier this year, I found an illustrated version of it in a used bookstore and snatched it up, saving it for Christmas this year.  I enjoyed reading it as soon as I woke up Christmas morning. It’s beautiful watercolor illustrations by Beth Peck were an added bonus.

The story itself is a sad one when it comes to the ending, but very warm and heartfelt.  Many reviewers over time have shunned Capote’s short stories because they are often odd or sad.  But it is these handicaps or eccentricities that evoke the very feeling Capote wanted his readers to take away from his writing.  Southern Lit at it’s very best, if I must say!

“A Christmas Memory” is the story of a seven year old boy nicknamed Buddy and his elder cousin in her sixties carrying out the tradition of making fruitcakes one Christmas.  The magic of the story is the love and attention the two share while accompanied by a rat terrier named Queenie.  To quote the story, “We are cousins, very distant ones, and we have lived together – well, as long as I can remember. Other people inhabit the house, relatives; and though they have power over us, and frequently make us cry, we are not, on the whole, too much aware of them. We are each other’s best friend.”

Though time and distance are only responsible for the changes made to my Christmas memories of today, I still recall with great joy the holidays of my childhood. The farther away I grow from them, the more important they become.  And the harder they become to remember.

What is your favorite Christmas memory or tradition?

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