A Christmas Farewell

In honor of the holidays, AHF will explore contributions to literature, film, art and other humanities disciplines in the name of holiday spirit! Or, through the art of storytelling, we will tell you our favorite Christmas memories.

Dolores Hydock’s one-woman performance of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory is a Christmas tradition in Alabama. The young boy, Buddy, and his elderly cousin Sook with their dog, Queenie, prepare their annual gift of fruitcakes. They exchange their precious gifts of handmade kites and fly them in a clear blue sky on Christmas. Sook says that God and heaven must be like this.

This story reminds us of our special Christmas memories. My father also grew up in a small town—Greenville, Georgia—and discovered a world of imagination and books through his Aunt Winnie. Books opened up a window to life beyond the few streets in his hometown. As an English professor in the military, he wrote his redhead, maiden aunt every day from all over the world. Another aunt sent us a canned fruitcake every Christmas for 30 years. The family joke was that the fruitcakes stacked up in the pantry since no one ate them, except for my husband who drowns his cake in rum and pecans.

Every Christmas Santa gave me a book that I now cherish as a memory of my father’s shared love of books: from Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha,” to travel books to the classics. I now continue the Christmas tradition and give books. It was the week before Christmas when I began my job with Alabama Humanities Foundation. Now, five years later, I am leaving my position as grants director for a new position of executive director for the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) in Atlanta. So, I must say farewell to my humanities “buddies” in Alabama.