One of the benefits of starting my library and archives life as a shelver in the Humanities Library at MIT was exposure to some great writers. As an employee I took advantage of my borrowing privileges and went on a literary journey that set the foundation for my passion for reading to this day. One of the authors I discovered was Truman Capote and his short story, A Christmas Memory, is an annual “must read” for me at this time of year.
A very autobiographical tale set in the American South of the 1930s tells the story of a boy named Buddy living with poor relatives, including an eccentric cousin, Sook, who is his best friend. Buddy and Sook collect pecans and buy whiskey with pennies saved to bake fruitcakes to send to people they have met, or not, including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. In the days leading up to Christmas they make decorations and craft gifts for each other in secret. On Christmas morning they discover they have each made kites and head for a meadow to test their gifts. This is the scene which has stuck with me over the years.
“Satisfied, sun-warmed, we sprawl in the grass and peel Satsumas and watch our kites cavort… ‘My, how foolish I am!’ my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she … [ Read all ]