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Sometime in the ’70’s
I came upon Truman Capote’s
stories, The Thanksgiving Visitor
and A Christmas Memory.
When my son was a boy
I read these to him on Thanksgiving Day
and sometime during the Christmas Season
(the days after Christmas Day, by the way.)
Now I’m absolutely certain
that I understood more from the content of these stories
than he did.
He wasn’t old enough
to understand the heroine’s approach
for dealing with a bully.
Yet, I hope, that just being read to,
in the warmth of the family circle,
and hearing the eloquent words
that evoked the darkness and light
of Capote’s childhood,
enriched Will’s life.

Yesterday,
I read aloud again
The Thanksgiving Visitor.
A friend kindly listened.
And I enjoyed the story
immensely.

The story is set in Alabama, in the home of distant relatives where Capote stayed some while he was a child, during the Thanksgiving of 1934.

The most delicate task was preparing the napkins and tablecloths that would decorate the dining room. The linen had belonged to my friend’s mother, who had received it as a wedding gift; though it had been used only once or twice a year, say two hundred times in the past eighty years, nevertheless it was eighty years old, and mended patches and freckled discolorations were apparent. Probably it had not been a fine material to begin with, but Miss Sook treated it as though it had been woven by golden hands on heavenly looms: “My mother said, ‘The day may come when all we can offer is well water and cold cornbread, but at least we’ll be able to serve it on a table set with proper linen.'”

At night, after the day’s dashing about and when the rest of the house was dark, one feeble lamp burned late while my friend, propped in bed with napkins massed on her lap, repaired blemishes and tears with thread and needle, her forehead crumpled, her eyes cruelly squeezed, yet illuminated by the fatigued rapture of a pilgrim approaching an altar at journey’s end.

Looking forward to Christmas
now,
and the out-loud reading
of A Christmas Memory.