Explain how "A Christmas Memory" is a reminiscence.  

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "reminiscence" is defined as follows:

A story told about a past event remembered by the narrator

"A Christmas Memory" is a good example of a reminiscence because the story's narrator tells his readers about events that happened to him when he was seven years old.  

The story begins with the narrator telling his readers to imagine a morning in late November. From there he describes a large kitchen in an old country house. Next, he describes a "sixty-something" woman, and the woman calls the narrator "Buddy" because he reminds her of a former best friend.

The person to whom she is speaking is myself. I am seven; she is sixty-something. We are cousins, very distant ones, and we have lived together — well, as long as I can remember. . . We are each other's best friend. She calls me Buddy, in memory of a boy who was formerly her best friend.

The rest of the story is a beautiful retelling of a Christmas tradition that Buddy and his cousin share every year. The two of them bake a bunch of fruitcakes together and pass them out to friends.

Thirty-one cakes, dampened with whiskey, bask on windowsills and shelves.

Who are they for?

Friends. Not necessarily neighbor friends: indeed, the larger share is intended for persons we've met maybe once, perhaps not at all. People who've struck our fancy.  

After passing out the fruitcakes, Buddy and his cousin decide to celebrate by finishing off the last bit of whisky from the bottle that was used during the baking process. The two of them get slightly inebriated, and Buddy's cousin gets scolded for allowing that to happen to a child.

Enter: two relatives. Very angry. Potent with eyes that scold, tongues that scald. Listen to what they have to say, the words tumbling together into a wrathful tune: "A child of seven! whiskey on his breath! are you out of your mind? feeding a child of seven! must be loony! road to ruination! remember Cousin Kate? Uncle Charlie? Uncle Charlie's brother-in-law? shame! scandal! humiliation! kneel, pray, beg the Lord!"

The next morning the two main characters head out into the woods to search for a tree and Christmas decorations. They make each other some presents, and the story ends on Christmas day. They wake up early, rouse the rest of the household, open presents, and spend a part of the day flying the kites that they made for each other.

The final paragraphs of the story explain to readers that this is the last Christmas that they will spend together because Buddy goes off to military school.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The word "reminiscence" means a memory, or the description of a memory. Truman Capote's story "A Christmas Memory" is told in the voice of a narrator who is remembering an older female cousin who was his best friend when he was a child.

The story describes how the two would enjoy special time together getting ready for the holidays. Living in poverty, they would nonetheless spend four days making fruitcakes that they would then share with friends, family, and even distant acquaintances. The narrator also describes the effort they would put into finding a perfect Christmas tree for their family and their tradition of giving each other kites on Christmas and celebrating by flying the kites together.

After the boy is sent away to military school, he hears of the death of his cousin. As he grows older he continues to reflect on the time he shared with her with great affection.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A reminiscence is a memory.  The story "A Christmas Memory" is an autobiographical account of an event from Truman Capote's life.  He relates a fond memory from his childhood.  It is a first person narration.

In this memory or reminiscence, he tells the story of the time in his life when he lived with his mother's family in Alabama when he was around 7 years old.  He focuses on the memory of making fruitcakes with his elder cousin, the person he refers to as friend.  

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A Christmas Memory

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