illustration of two red kites hanging upon a Christmas tree

A Christmas Memory

by Truman Capote

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In "A Christmas Memory," what does Buddy's cousin believe she has been foolish about?

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Buddy's cousin says this when the two are outside flying the kites they have given one another as Christmas gifts. The moment is tense and excited:  

"My, how foolish I am!" my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. "You know what I've always thought?" she asks in a tone of discovery and not smiling at me but a point beyond.

She then says that she had thought one had to be sick and dying to have a vision of God. She thought that vision would be beautiful, like stained glass in a church lit by the sun, and that the bright sunlight would take away that "spooky feeling" of death and meeting God. Then she says she thinks people nearing the end will realize that they have already seen God, in their daily lives and all the things around them. She says God is in "the things as they are" and gestures with her hand to include the pasture, the kites in the sky, the clouds, the dog Queen gnawing her bone. She then says "I could leave the world with today in my eyes."

It is powerful moment and the first one where any kind of personal connection to religion is mentioned overtly, letting us known that Buddy's religious upbringing was unusual. The next paragraph is one sentence: "This is our last Christmas together." From that point on we know the memoir will be more about looking back than describing events taking place in the moment they are lived.

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