I can’t let this subject be ignored, just when Christmas is around the corner.
The word FRUITCAKE, that heavy holiday treat, suddenly came to mind in CAPITAL letters. I don’t know how that happened because I haven’t thought about FRUITCAKE for years. I sometimes think my Mother is laughing this side of heaven because the weirdest things that only she would like, appear when I least expect them.
Anyway, this lightening bolt was about FRUITCAKE, which somebody like Martha Stewart would call a “good thing.” That’s probably the only agreement Mother would ever have had with Martha had Mother, in her lifetime, known about her. But I have to disagree with both.
As a little kid, I first saw FRUITCAKE served at the family Christmas gatherings at the Riefle household (her parents / my grandparents). I remember trying to taste a little bit of FRUITCAKE then, but was truly disgusted by the candied fruit. Not only was the candied fruit tart and stuck to your teeth, but the cake itself looked like it had a bad case of bright colored jellied warts.
With my imagination, the image stuck in my brain like gum on a shoe.
After my initial taste of the FRUITCAKE, my tastebuds rose up in rebellion. Most likely I screwed up my face and stuck out my tongue trying not to gag, and most likely Mother said in response –
“But, it’s FRUIT cake” !! As if her retort was proof of something good…
Actually, the FRUITCAKE might have been tasty in the cake area and nut parts, but the warts of candied fruit kept getting in the way. It wasn’t worth the effort to pick off all the warts first, as I actually once tried to do. There were too many and layered all through it.
On the other hand, Mother must have grown up on FRUITCAKE. I can imagine her with her toddler vocabulary identifying her relatives by name – “dare’s unkel FROOTCAKE!” How very perceptive.
Maybe it’s in our genetic code to like certain foods and think most of your relatives have the same genes. Every Christmas for a while, Mother gave out tinned FRUITCAKEs to her relatives and friends.
Lumping me in a basket with her other “FROOTCAKEs,” she supplied me with a tinned FRUITCAKE at least twice, as a present on holiday occasions. Since I was an adult by then, she must’ve assumed I learned to love FRUITCAKE. I ask you, how can the joy and excitement of receiving a FRUITCAKE ever be interpreted by a crestfallen face and a rolling of the eyes?
Of course, Mother never asked. Asking would have warned me ahead of time and spoiled the surprise.
I think I threw out that first FRUITCAKE present after it morphed into a rock, and the second FRUITCAKE present I regifted back to her the next Christmas. But she recognized the tin.
After that fiasco, and in hopes to self-inflict my own punishment, I told her, “…you should never feel obligated to give me a FRUITCAKE ever again. Never again, do you hear me Mom?” At least, that is what I wish I had said.
“That certainly would teach me,” stammers Bre’r Rabbit from his safety in the briar patch.
How else could I clarify that she was only wasting her money and her efforts to have me enjoy colored warts?
A word to the wise: foisting FRUITCAKE is one holiday tradition for this family that has waved bye-bye.
However, if any other FROOTCAKE out there in the hinterland dares to mail me one, I’ll make sure you WILL know that you HAVE WASTED your money: I’ll regift it in the same tin to the postman, who obviously doesn’t think straight, for delivering it in the first place to my correct address — instead of losing it, as he sometimes does with my mail.
So my apologies to all FRUITCAKE lovers out there, and you know how few you are. Have your selves a merry little FRUITCAKE.