A Christmas Memory
Goodreads ratings
4.24 / 5

"A Christmas Memory" Summary

By Truman Capote

christmas | 48 pages | Published in NaN

First published in 1956, this much sought-after autobiographical recollection of Truman Capote's rural Alabama boyhood has become a modern-day classic. We are proud to be reprinting this warm and delicately illustrated edition of A Christmas Memory--"a tiny gem of a holiday story" (School Library Journal, starred review). Seven-year-old Buddy inaugurates the Christmas season by crying out to his cousin, Miss Sook Falk: "It's fruitcake weather!" Thus begins an unforgettable portrait of an odd but enduring friendship between two innocent souls--one young and one old--and the memories they share of beloved holiday rituals.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Two kindred spirits, a young boy and his elderly cousin, create heartwarming memories and share a special bond while preparing for Christmas in rural Alabama.


Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" is a poignant and heartwarming novella that captures the essence of love, friendship, and the spirit of Christmas. Set in the 1930s, the story follows the bond between a young boy named Buddy and his older cousin, as they embark on heartwarming adventures and create lasting memories during the holiday season.

Brief Synopsis

In the rural town of Monroeville, Alabama, during the 1930s, Buddy, a seven-year-old boy, lives with his distant, elderly cousins, and his best friend is his older cousin, who is affectionately referred to as "my best friend" or "my friend." Despite their age difference, the two share a deep bond and spend their days engaged in simple yet meaningful activities. As Christmas approaches, they begin their annual tradition of baking fruitcakes, saving money, and planning to send the cakes to acquaintances across the country, in a heartwarming display of generosity and love.

Plot Overview and Setting

The story is set in a small, rural town in the deep South of the United States during the 1930s, a time marked by economic hardship and the lingering impact of the Great Depression. The setting plays a significant role in shaping the characters' lives, emphasizing the simplicity of their existence and the importance of human connection in the face of adversity.

Main Characters

The novella revolves around two main characters:

BuddyA seven-year-old boy, full of curiosity and innocence, and the narrator of the story. He shares an incredibly close and heartwarming bond with his older cousin.
CousinAn elderly, childlike woman who is Buddy's best friend. She is portrayed as loving, kind-hearted, and deeply attached to Buddy. She possesses a childlike innocence and a love for life that is infectious.

Chapter Summary

Chapter 1: The Great Preparations

Buddy and his cousin embark on their annual tradition of gathering ingredients and making fruitcakes for Christmas. They immerse themselves in the joy of preparation, enjoying each other's company and relishing in the anticipation of the holiday season.

Chapter 2: Fruitcake Weather

As the holiday season approaches, Buddy and his cousin eagerly continue their preparations for Christmas, including the making and wrapping of the fruitcakes. Their excitement and enthusiasm are palpable, and the bond between the two becomes even more evident as they work together in harmony.

Chapter 3: The Big Dawn

On the morning of Christmas, the duo wakes up before dawn to exchange their gifts, a ritual that symbolizes their deep affection for each other. They revel in the simplicity and sincerity of their celebration, cherishing the moments they share.

Chapter 4: The Sky

The story culminates in a bittersweet yet heartwarming farewell, as Buddy's cousin prepares to leave for a home for the elderly. Their parting is filled with love and tenderness, and the enduring bond they share is beautifully depicted in this emotional conclusion.

Main Events

  • The annual tradition of baking fruitcakes for Christmas
  • The exchange of heartfelt gifts on Christmas morning
  • The bittersweet farewell as Buddy's cousin prepares to leave for a home for the elderly

Themes and Insights

Love and Friendship

The novella beautifully portrays the pure and unconditional love between Buddy and his cousin, emphasizing the profound impact of their friendship and the joy they find in each other's company. Their bond serves as a testament to the power of love and the enduring nature of true friendship.

Generosity and Kindness

The act of baking fruitcakes and sending them to acquaintances symbolizes the characters' generosity and kindness. The novella underscores the joy of giving and the significance of small acts of kindness, especially during the holiday season.

Nostalgia and Innocence

Capote skillfully weaves a narrative that evokes a sense of nostalgia, capturing the innocence and simplicity of childhood. The story transports readers to a time filled with wonder, emphasizing the beauty of embracing life's simple pleasures.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Christmas Memory" is a heartwarming tale that celebrates the enduring bond of love and friendship, emphasizing the joy found in simple acts of kindness and generosity. Through the endearing relationship between Buddy and his cousin, readers are reminded of the profound impact of human connection and the timeless spirit of the holiday season.


Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers of all ages. Through its evocative storytelling and poignant portrayal of love, friendship, and the holiday spirit, the novella leaves a lasting impression, reminding us of the enduring power of cherished memories and the joy of giving.

A Christmas Memory FAQ

  1. What is 'A Christmas Memory' about?

    A Christmas Memory is a short story by Truman Capote about the close relationship between a young boy, Buddy, and his older cousin, who is his best friend and confidante. The story revolves around their preparations for Christmas and the special bond they share.

  2. When was 'A Christmas Memory' published?

    A Christmas Memory was first published in 1956 in Mademoiselle magazine. It has since been reprinted in various collections of Capote's works.

  3. Is 'A Christmas Memory' suitable for children?

    A Christmas Memory is generally suitable for children, as it explores themes of friendship, family, and the magic of the holiday season. However, parents or guardians may want to consider the emotional depth of the story and whether it is appropriate for the age and sensitivity of the child.

  4. What genre does 'A Christmas Memory' belong to?

    A Christmas Memory is a classic short story that falls into the genre of fictional literature, with elements of nostalgia, coming-of-age, and holiday themes.

  5. Is 'A Christmas Memory' a true story?

    A Christmas Memory is semi-autobiographical, drawing on Truman Capote's own childhood experiences and his relationship with his older cousin, Sook Faulk. While the events are fictionalized, they are inspired by Capote's memories and emotions.