My father and my uncles sitting at card tables playing pinochle and my mother and aunts and my grandmother in the kitchen. I know Im digressing, but I imagine if you read this lovely story, it will stir your own memories of your childhood Christmases.
Buddys special Christmas memory captures the pleasure of preparing fruitcakes with Miss Sook, creating homemade gifts for one another, and sharing the companionship of a beloved dog. What I delighted in most about A Christmas Memory is that Capote tells the story in such a way that I feel like Ive been there, done that although Ive never in my life baked a fruitcake!
Capote's Holiday Memoirs: The Whispers of Memory Truman Capote's The Thanksgiving Visitor was chosen as a Moderator's Choice by Laura Webber, "The Tall Woman," as a read for the group On the Southern Literary Trail for November, 2014 These reflections have been written over the course of nearly three years. December 24, 2011 Perhaps I should say this is not so much the review of a book, but the response A Christmas Memory still draws from me each year when I read it. Perhaps it is just a simple statement of the preciousness of memory and the gift it brings us to keep things alive within us, though those things have been gone from us for many years. They are slipcased editions of "The Thanksgiving Visitor" and a "Christmas Memory." I have taken them to the bedside table because it is time to read them once more. I could re-shelve "The Thanksgiving Visitor, but I never do until I have read "A Christmas Memory" once more. "The Thanksgiving Visitor" is in a blue slipcase, "A Christmas Memory" is in red. The books slide easily from their cases for I have read them so many times. For in addition to the joy and simple kindness of Capote's holiday memories are the memories of my own Thanksgivings and Christmases, some joyous and some not, especially those holidays without my grandparents, both of whom have been gone now over twenty years. But reading these little stories, seeing my grandmother's little inscription, bring my grandparents back to me in ways I could not have without the weight of these books in my hand. I will share the table today with my wife and mother. I will be thankful for home and family and the memory of those I love who will not be sharing our table today, whether separated by simple miles or death itself. I will raise a toast to each of those dear to me and I will feel their presence around the table because of two little books given to me one Christmas morning more than thirty years ago. There is little sign of Truman Capote or Nelle Harper Lee in that town, other than the old Courthouse, now a museum. Truman Capote's childhood summer and Christmas home is a vacant lot. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or nothing at all, I wish each of you the best of memories for the coming day. To Life-- Mike Addendum December 24, 2013 The Christmas dinner described above was the last my wife and I shared with my Mother. The Thanksgiving Visitor and A Christmas Memory have both been carried to Wilmington. This year these little books grow even more special to me as I read the comments of "The Trail" members while they experience Capote's stories. One mother is reading "The Thanksgiving Visitor" to her ten year old daughter.
I wish that I could have gone down that lemony sun pool path with seven year old Buddy (Truman Capote) and his cousin Miss Sook. Miss Sook made around 30 fruitcakes for people that she knew in town, storekeepers, the mailman, and anyone else that they liked, and this year when they bought whiskey for the cake, they bought it from Mr. HaHa, who gave it to them in exchange for a fruitcake. As they wound down their lemony path, they had to come up with money for making the cake, so they had saved money throughout the year from selling flowers they picked here and there. During those years of picking flowers for the Sunday matinees, I found a fenced in yard that had no lawn, just flowers everywhere, and I asked the woman who gardened if I could have some to sell. To gather up enough money to make fruitcakes each year, Buddy and Miss Sook held rummage sales, sold buckets of hand-picked blackberries, jars of homemade jam and apple jelly and peach preserves, and as I already said, flowers that they gathered from different places were also sold. Miss Sook was rather eccentric, like the woman in the book Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson who took care of children. Sook's Fruitcake Recipe Sook's Famous "Christmas Memory" Fruitcake 2 1/2 lb Brazil nuts 2 1/2 lb White and dark raisins; -mixed 1/2 lb Candied cherries 1/2 lb Candied pineapple 1 lb Citron 1/2 lb Blanched almonds 1/2 lb Pecan halves 1/2 lb Black walnuts 1/2 lb Dried figs 1 tb Nutmeg 1 tb Cloves 2 tb Grated bitter chocolate 8 oz Grape jelly 8 oz Grape juice 8 oz Bourbon whisky 1 tb Cinnamon 1 tb Allspice 2 c Butter 2 c Sugar 12 Eggs 4 c Flour Cut the fruits and nuts into small pieces, and coat them with some of the flour. From "Sook's Cookbook" and made famous in Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory".
The story begins with Capote's cousin/best friend waking one morning to declare "Oh my, it's fruitcake weather!" The two pool their pennies, and set out to gather the ingredients. Thirty cakes are then baked, and sent to far off places like California and Borneo. The book ends on Christmas day when the friends exchange gifts, though Capote includes asides that hint at sad and somber events in the future.
A grown man is reminiscing on a childhood Christmas memory with his best friend. What makes their friendship so special is that Buddy is only 7 and his best friend is his elderly female, childlike cousin whom he had lived with as a child.
Truman Capote was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel." At least 20 films and TV dramas have been produced from Capote novels, stories and screenplays. During this time, he also began his career as a writer, publishing many short stories which introduced him into a circle of literary critics.