One day recently while substitute teaching I read a thoughtful piece by Truman Capote. I almost cried, but I was with students and didn't think it was wise. “A Christmas Memory” is about his friend who calls him Buddy, an elderly cousin and what they did to get ready for Christmas. They made and gave away fruit cake and went to the woods to cut down a tree and decorated it with homemade ornaments. They made each other kites for Christmas.
The reflection ends:
The reflection ends:
This is our last Christmas together.
Life separates us. Those who Know Best decide that I belong in a military school. And so follows a miserable succession of bugle-blowing prisons, grim reveille-ridden summer camps. I have a new home too. But it doesn’t count.
Home is where my friend is, and there I never go.
And there she remains, puttering around the kitchen. Alone with Queenie. Then alone. (“Buddy dear,” she writes in her wild hard-to-read script, “yesterday Jim Macy’s horse kicked Queenie bad. Be thankful she didn’t feel much. I wrapped her in a Fine Linen sheet and rode her in the buggy down to Simpson’s pasture where she can be with all her Bones. . . . “).
For a few Novembers she continues to bake her fruitcakes single-handed; not as many, but some: and, of course, she always sends me “the best of the batch.” Also, in every letter she encloses a dime wadded in toilet paper: “See a picture show and write me the story.” But gradually in her letters she tends to confuse me with her other friend, the Buddy who died in the 1880’s; more and more, thirteens are not the only days she stays in bed: a morning arrives in November, a leafless birdless coming of winter morning, when she cannot rouse herself to exclaim: “Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!”
And when that happens, I know it.
A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven.
Thinking about Christmas 2013
with my late husband.
The kites are flying.
So glad for my faith
in Jesus Christ and that
my husband is with Him.