“But when it comes time for making each other’s gift, my friend and I separate to work secretly. I would like to buy her a pearl-handled knife, a radio, a whole pound of chocolate-covered cherries… Instead I am building her a kite. She would like to give me a bicycle (she’s said so on several million occasions: ‘If only I could, Buddy. It’s bad enough in life to do without something you want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want them to have.’ …Instead, I’m fairly certain that she is building me a kite…”
Truman and his dearest childhood friend did end up giving each other a kite for Christmas and they had a good laugh about it before enjoying a wonderful kite-flying day. The kind of day that makes one say, “I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”
In one of the many gatherings this season, an acquaintance confessed matter-of-factly that he doesn’t give Christmas too much thought or he’d feel sad about what was missing. I felt that wholeheartedly. It turned my thoughts toward loved ones who have lost so much this year and what Christmas would be like for them. Indeed, “What gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want them to have.”
This book, so deceptively simple, had me sobbing by page thirty. It is heart-warming and heart-rending at the same time. Although the accompanying stories lend a surprising glimpse into the author’s emotional traumas from his early years, it is beautiful enough to be considered one of the best Christmas books and, perhaps, deserving of an annual rereading — if only to remind us of the gifts of true friendship, and to nudge us to rummage through our own chests of Christmas memories and realize what treasures we keep within.
“That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching for the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven.”