Feeling “A Christmas Memory”

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Sunday afternoon I walked over to Lafayette Square here in Historic District Savannah to attend the annual reading of Truman Capote’s classic short story “A Christmas Memory.”

A few pics of my short trek over to the Flannery O’Connor childhood home (where the reading took place) on beautiful East Charlton Street near the square.

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Cathedral of St. John the Baptist:

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We arrived early, and I’m happy for that because the old house ending up being standing-room-only packed.

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But we secured second row seats next to new friends Mark and Keith from Minnesota (and Tybee Island).

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Here’s longtime reader (over two decades of sharing the story) and retired Armstrong Atlantic State University English professor Bob Strozier.

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As soon as Mr. Bob opened his mouth and uttered the first word, the small crowd was mesmerized.  He had us in the palm of his hand.  A southern voice, buttery and comforting, read the heartwarming story of young Buddy and his Friend.

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The short story “A Christmas Memory,” by Truman Capote, was originally published in December of 1956. This largely autobiographical story (Capote grew up largely in Alabama) tells of a friendship between Buddy, a seven-year-old, and his elderly cousin, referred to only as Friend. While the story has “Christmas” in its title, the holiday only serves as a backdrop for the protagonist to reminisce about his childhood in the 1930s South.

Throughout the story, Buddy remembers fondly how he and Friend raised funds for making fruitcakes, and how the two exchanged homemade gifts and flew their kites. The two are surrounded by vague and nameless other adults, undoubtedly relatives, but live in a rural and at times imaginary world of their own.  Buddy recalls with sadness how “Those who Know Best” eventually send him away to military school, and how Queenie (a rat terrier) and Friend succumb to injury and old age, in turn.  The resolution of the story includes an image of two kites, and the heart-broken narrator sensing the loss of “an irrevocable part of myself.”  (HubPages.com)

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If you know the story, the ending brings tears, for young Buddy is sent away to military school and, from a distance, eventually loses both his dog Queenie and his old best Friend.

As the story drew to a close, sniffles could be heard all over the room.  (Okay, okay, primarily from my seat.)

After the reading, refreshments were served, and Prof. Strozier graciously talked with guests.

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Here’s Flannery O’Connor.

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But wait, that may be her too below, at the bottom left!  And look in the mirror!

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Goodness.  I had to go into the garden for a minute.

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I spent a delightful few minutes chatting with Prof. Bob.

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What a wonderful Sunday holiday afternoon!  Thank you, Professor Bob, the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home and the Gulfstream Fall Lecture Series.  See you next year!

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