‘One Christmas’ by Truman Capote

Chosen by JL Bogenschneider

Better known is Capote’s ‘A Christmas Memory’, but dues should be given to this underrated sequel (actually a second one, following ‘The Thanksgiving Visitor’) in which we’re reunited with Buddy – for which, read young Truman – who’s uprooted from his home in Alabama in order to spend Christmas with his father in New Orleans. Neither of Buddy’s parents have previously taken an interest in him: he lives with relatives and his best friend is an elderly, guileless cousin called Sook.
 
Buddy is an innocent who still believes in Santa, thanks to Sook. He doesn’t want to visit his father, but Sook asserts that it’s the Lord’s will and also that Buddy might see snow. It’s the latter that convinces him, but the revelation – broken on arrival – that it never snows in New Orleans is the first of many disappointments that unfold over the season.
 
The story flies before descending and crashing hard, but it’s worth it for the sweet coda, a single, ingenuous, unbroken line that – given all that’s gone before – is equal to the sad-beauty of ‘A Christmas Memory’’s As for me I could leave the world with today in my eyes…
 
Read them both together.

Originally published in 1983 as a gift book. Collected variously, including in The Complete Stories of Truman Capote, Penguin, 2005 and A Christmas Memory, Penguin, 2020. * JL Bogenschneider is a writer of short fiction, with work in a number of print and online journals. Their chapbook, Fears for The Near Future, is available from Neon Books. You can read their other contributions to A Personal Anthology here. 

‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote

Although slight, this is a deft and beguiling reminiscence of Capote’s childhood Christmases in Alabama. As a boy of seven he enjoyed the kinship of his ‘friend’, a much older female cousin who relished the festive season.
 
“It’s always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: ‘It’s fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat.’”
 
In tandem the pair revel in their own style of Christmas, recorded here with poignancy and love. 
 
First published in Mademoiselle, December 1956. Most recently republished in A Christmas Memory, Penguin Classics, 2020 and available to read on the Penguin website here

Chosen by Kate Levey. Kate is the daughter of Brigid Brophy and sporadically writes about her.