After the turkey, movies, books

Published 12:25am Saturday, November 17, 2012

A turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night used to be one of my favorite things about the annual food holiday. Then we stopped allowing bread in our house and that changed.

Now, as much as I look forward to turkey, dressing (OK, we cheat on that no-bread thing there), and being with friends and family, I enjoy more cooking for those guests. And when the leftovers are packed away, there are two things I intend to do.

The first is treat myself to a re-read of Truman Capote’s book of short stories.

“Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town …”

“A Christmas Memory,” takes me immediately to a simpler time and place, and I am in the field with Buddy and his friend, searching for leftover pecans for the annual fruitcakes, or knocking shyly upon the door of HaHa, the moonshiner. Capote’s descriptions remind me, happily, of rambling around my grandparents’ farm on crisp fall days. Soon, I’ll be inspired to get going with my late mother-in-law’s 100-year-old recipe for fruitcakes. Never fear: I only ship them to the six or seven people in my circle who like fruitcake.

Another magical thing happens on Thanksgiving afternoon. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” another tribute to small-town life, is inevitably broadcast on at least three networks. My sappy, sentimental self loves Frank Capra’s classic movie that was made two decades before I was born. For one who eschews the sometimes-greedy spirit of Christmas “getting,” the movie underscores the values that matter most.

I love George Bailey – a man who had the potential to go anywhere and do anything, yet “settled” for staying in his hometown – because I feel like I know him many times over and by several other names. When appreciative townspeople support him in a time of crisis, well, I cry every time.

On over toward Christmas, I’ll read another holiday favorite, “Christmas Gift!,” or in a really good year, reread the classic work of Capote’s lifelong friend, Harper Lee.

There’s something about the cool weather and the time spent with family that makes me stop and read something wonderful for the sheer joy of it. It’s my favorite gift to myself.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Call me if you’d like to borrow a good book to get through the holiday.

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