My mother could be flighty and fickle, throwing things away on a whim and often wondering why we cared when we discovered something we loved was gone. Most material things meant nothing to her. But as far as I know, her collection of Christmas decorations and other ephemera was never weeded through.
One of her favorite traditions was to take out her copy of A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote and place it near a fireplace or on a small side table where it would be seen and picked up. If you haven’t read it, run out and get it…but not from the Durham Public Libraries since they are closed until Monday. Hrummph, bankers hours from a library.
If you don’t know it, A Christmas Memory is the story of Buddy who lives with indifferent relatives and one gem of a cousin who he refers to as his “friend” throughout his first person narration of the book. In late November each year she counts her coins and with her money, she and Buddy make fruitcakes. One for the President even! It’s a charming, short story of two people – one young and one old – who love each other dearly (“when you’re grown up, will we still be friends?”) in a world that is less than loving to them. They are misfits. Except they have each other.
Until they don’t.
“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 towards heaven.”
I’m missing my mother in unexpected waves as seems to happen often these days. This time though, I find myself desperately wishing for a copy of A Christmas Memory so I can lay it near our fireplace and then put my hands on it, even if I can’t touch my mother ever again.When Mom died in May, Christmas was the last thing on my mind. But now I wish that I had snagged her copy of the book. It must be there somewhere, in my parents Colorado apartment. That does me little good now.
“Love, having no geography, knows no boundaries,” Capote said at one point. That’s where I am now. Overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my family and my rich, rich life but boundary-less and unmoored without mother on this Christmas Eve and for who knows how long. I think I’ll call the Regulator and see if they have a copy.