A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Christmas Memory

Every December most of us who are readers will re-read one of our favorite Christmas stories. For years for me it was Dickens' A Christmas Carol. For the last few years I have pulled out Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory

The story is of a lonely little 7 year old boy and his 60+ child-like cousin. They live with relatives in a big old farmhouse in Alabama. They are best friends. The way it is written reminds me of all the Charlie Brown stories; the "adults" are never shown, rarely mentioned, and when they speak at all it is simply a "bwa-bwa-bwa" sound. It is mostly about Truman's real life experience.

They are best friends and the story is about how they celebrate Christmas back in the 1930s. Their tradition of making fruitcakes, cutting a Christmas tree, making gifts, the love they have for each other. A little dog named Queenie is the other member of their family within a family. It is a touching story of love and of people that are different from the rest of the family. Those who don't quite fit in. They have found each other within that family and mostly ignore the others.

At the end of the story they are separated by the family and the little boy is sent off to a military school. It is disturbing to me that children live in a family that has no clue about what kind of person they are. That a quiet sensitive odd little boy should be sent off to a military school is horrifying to me.

The story is only a few pages long and if you haven't read it, I recommend it. Especially if you have ever felt like the odd member of a family. I kind of think we all feel like that at one time or another. But some of us are different all of the time.

I grew up in a large family with 6 siblings and grandparents that lived with us. Sharing a bedroom with 3 sisters and a baby brother, there was no place to go to be alone. I often climbed a big mimosa tree in the back yard and read. Within its feathery leaves it was cool and peaceful. And quiet. 

I was always the family member that wanted something a little different, that believed a little differently, and I still am that one. But I was never as different as the young Truman and his elderly cousin. My wish for the season is that everyone has a place they feel at home and safe and accepted.

And if you have the opportunity to offer this to someone, I hope you'll take it.


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