Since I couldn’t get myself into a full-length novel reading mood, I spent this holiday season reading The Complete Short Stories of Truman Capote. Prominent among the collection are Capote’s Christmas stories. I’ve read his renowned “A Christmas Memory” a few years ago; its ending still stands as a handful of endings in literature that can make me cry (well, tear up). After reading his other shorts, “One Christmas” and “A Thanksgiving Visitor, ” I believe my holiday season is enriched with visions of Southern Christmases dancing through my head.
These stories generates that warm feeling of kindling stoves in wintertime, of biscuits smothered in gravy, of holiday gluttony in the form of strawberry preserves, fried catfish, black-eyed peas, sweet milk, and “coffee chicory-flavored and as hot as Hades.” The language is a treat for the palate and Capote’s Mobile, Alabama is a setting far removed from the retailed Christmases we’re all familiar with.