As I address and sign Christmas cards, I work slowly, holding in mind and spirit the friends to whom I’m sending greetings. It’s meditative, quiet time, and if I have quiet background music, it’s Christmas songs for only a few minutes; then I change to a mix. I regret that much Christmas music has grown tiresomely familiar.
She gave me a ticket to her Christmas chorus concert. Afterwards we went to a party and then to dinner. On parting, she gave me frozen apple dumplings, pecan pie M&Ms, homemade Zuppa Toscana, a can of chili (the best for hot dogs), homemade chili soup, pepper jelly, country sausage, homemade spaghetti sauce, and Omaha steak hot dogs.
“That’s quite a haul,” said her son. Yes, it is. Her son may not be aware of the long haul of our good friendship over the decades: shared laughter, antics, adventures, and regalements of stories, most of which are embellished with the truth. A good Christmas reunion, yes.
Recently I met a man who likes to read and collect obituaries. He read us an obituary from a family, published in a newspaper in Pennsylvania. I liked the reportage of the deceased’s last words: “He was always a daredevil. His last words were, ‘Watch this!'”
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Paul Theroux, Deep South (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)
Theroux visits the Deep South in each season, interviewing people, and writes his impressions. My favorite parts: talking with a Lumbee Indian in Lumberton, NC, attending ubiquitous gun shows, attending African-American churches, interviewing farmers in the Ozarks, and realizing and revealing blatant racism. There are three interesting “Interludes:” “The Taboo Word,” “The Paradoxes of Faulkner,” and “The Fascinations of Southern Fiction.” I was sorry that there was no index or bibliography.
Quotations from Deep South:
“The Bible is often the happy hunting grounds of disturbed minds. . . .”
“The Deep South today is not in its books, it’s in its people, and the people are hospitable, they are talkers, and if they take to you, they’ll tell you their stories.”
“. . . the qualities that made a successful farmer: a great work ethic, a strong will, a love of the land, a way with animals, a fearlessness at the bank, a vision of the future, a gift for taking the long view, a desire for self-sufficiency.”