A Fruitcake Tradition

Why fruitcake?  A lot of people don’t even like the stuff…

To be honest, last evening, after cutting cherries (green and red) in half, following a really different and physical day, I was suffering a bit of a martyr complex that can sometimes hit women if they do too much in preparation for the Advent season and Christmas.  I say ‘women’ simply because my observations tell me that women value the traditions  and rituals of the kitchen and appear to do a lot of preparation for holiday seasons.  (I also know a gentleman who prepares hundreds of perogies, in the tradition of his mother, prior to Christmas…so, I’m not meaning to make this a story about who-does-what.)

In my family of origin, my mother did a lot of work in the kitchen and sat many hours, sewing our clothing at her sewing machine.  My father participated…for example, he told me that he remembered cutting the cherries in half. (news to me…and as a result, this is the first year that I cut them in half)   The reason for starting this blog post.

I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning.  I decided before I went to bed that I would get up early, mix up the batter and fruit and put it all together to rest in order to bake it this evening.  (I’ve got lots I want to do today).  Well, it turns out that I woke at 4:00 in the morning.  Wide awake.  I made a decision to rise and SHINE…shine, being the operative word.

I put the coffee on and let Max out in the back yard to pee.

I looked up Gordon Lightfoot on Spotify, after listening to one short album of The Tallest Man On Earth.  For some reason, I woke with the lyrics of Wherefore and Why on my mind.  I made a choice to enter into the fruitcake prep with happiness and with a sense of nostalgia.

Some things came to mind as I worked and I wanted to write them down before I get on with the day.

First of all, the smells of Christmas are really important.  Allspice. Molasses. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Mixed Peel…evergreen…mincemeat.

I remembered my family while making fruitcake.  My grandparents.  My parents.  My brothers and sister.  And through the last many years…my children.

When I opened the small carton of molasses, I remembered my Gramma Moors.  A dessert treat would be to soak up molasses with a piece of white bread.  I remember her doing this while sitting at her small kitchen table.  The table was covered with a piece of floral vinyl.  I remember her soft yellow bath robe.  I remember that her feet didn’t really touch the floor when she sat at that table.  I miss my Gramma.

My kitchen is small, by today’s standards.  I realize this.  But, I have no desire for a larger kitchen.  My dishwasher hasn’t worked for almost two years.  I wash my dishes by hand. But, as I worked in my kitchen this morning, I remembered the kitchens where my mother toiled to make turkey dinners and dozens of butter tarts and fruitcakes and, for the most part, they were small kitchens.  I liked the intimacy, this morning, of my kitchen.  I enjoyed the idea that this kitchen is in a home that I have made, along with my children, all on our own.

I haven’t got a hankering to purchase or use mandolines or food processors of any kind.  I use a knife, a glass lemon squeezer, a grater…those sorts of tools.  In our family fruitcake recipe, for a single batch, we require one lemon and one orange; zest and juice.  As I squeezed these this morning, I remembered my mother’s knuckles…her hands…doing their work at the kitchen counter.  The image was as clear as day.  She pressed so hard that I remember her knuckles being red.  Every last drop of juice was won by her efforts.

Having no bowl large enough in my kitchen, I used my roasting pan and combined ingredients there.  Mom and Dad used their turkey roaster, also.  I remembered the large batch of batter resting in the family roaster.

I had a beautiful start to my day, preparing our family fruitcake recipe.  Thanks to Dad for sending me grocery money, I will be baking these up tonight, wrapping them up with the help of my girls tomorrow evening and posting them to my family, for the holiday.  Even if my brothers and sister just open the wrap and take in the smell of brandy and fruitcake, it will be enough…to remember our shared Christmases, our history and our Mom.

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When I woke this mornin’, something inside of me told me this would be my day
I heard the morning train, I felt the wind change, too many times I’m on my way
Come on sunshine, what can you show me
Where can you take me to make me understand
The wind can shake me, brothers forsake me
The rain can touch me, but can I touch the rain

And then I saw the sunrise above the cotton sky like a candycane delight
I saw the milkman, I saw the business man, I saw the only road in sight
Then I got to thinkin’ what makes you want to go, to know the wherefore and the why

So many times now, oh lord I can’t remember if it’s september or july

Then all at once it came to me, I saw the wherefore, and you can see it if you try
It’s in the sun above, it’s in the one you love, you’ll never know the reason why

Come on sunshine, what can you show me
Where can you take me to make me understand
The wind can shake me, brothers forsake me
The rain can touch me, but can I touch the rain
So much to lose, so much to gain

2 thoughts on “A Fruitcake Tradition

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