First edition in solo book form
|Media type||Print: Hardcover|
|Preceded by||"The Thanksgiving Visitor"|
"One Christmas" is an autobiographical short story by Truman Capote, portions of which were originally published in a 1982 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine. It was shortly thereafter published in 1983 as a book by Random House, Inc and was the final work published by Capote before his death in 1984. The story is an emotional childhood tale about the nature of deception and alcoholism. It is Capote’s last short story and a sequel to The Thanksgiving Visitor.
The story is narrated by a young Truman Capote, called Buddy, who lives in Alabama with his older cousins. One Christmas he is sent to spend the holiday in New Orleans with his seldom-seen father, who has temporary custody of him. Despite being set in The Great Depression Buddy’s father, a playboy, impresses him with many flashy possessions. Buddy misses his family in Alabama but, out of politeness, pretends to be impressed by his father’s attentions. On Christmas Eve, his father hosts a moonshine party, attended mostly by older women. Truman realizes his father is a gigolo. He also has his doubts about the true nature of Santa Claus and his suspicions are confirmed when he sees his inebriated father putting presents from Santa under the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, he presses his father for an additional present, an expensive model airplane. Buddy’s father buys it for him, hoping to secure Buddy’s affections, but this does not work. He is heartbroken to see Buddy leave for Alabama. Back in Alabama, Buddy’s cousins help him rationalize the true existence of Santa Claus again.
Reception and critical analysis
"One Christmas" has been noted as an example of a "nostalgic writer perhaps guilty of romanticizing the past."
Gerald Clarke notes the story has a tired quality, reflecting Capote’s own unshakable fatigue at the time he wrote it in the early 1980s.
"One Christmas" was adapted for television and aired in 1994, starring Katharine Hepburn, Henry Winkler, T.J. Lowther and Julie Harris. It was watched by 19.5 million people and placed ninth for the week in total viewers.
- A Christmas Memory Also includes "One Christmas" and "The Thanksgiving Visitor" (New York: Modern Library, 2007), copyright page.
- Gelfant, Blanche H. The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), page 187.
- Clarke, Gerald. Capote: a Biography (1998) Carroll & Graff. ISBN 0-7867-1661-4 p. 537
- One Christmas (1994) at the Internet Movie Database
- Capote, Truman (2007). A Christmas Memory: Also includes "One Christmas" and "The Thanksgiving Visitor". New York: Modern Library. ISBN 978-0679602378.
- Clarke, Gerald (1988). Capote, A Biography (1st ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0241125496.
- Gelfante, Blanche H. (2004). The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story (1st ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231110990.