Christmas revolved around fruitcake. Mother pinched pennies for weeks to buy the candied fruit and nuts required to bake the perfect fruitcake. On December 22, everything else was in readiness for FRUITCAKE baking. She chopped the nuts, candied fruit, brought out her spices and pulled out her time honored recipe for the perfect fruitcake which only graced our table during the Christmas Season. Baking the fruitcake was a sacred tradition, which we looked forward to it simply because it meant Christmas was almost here. The eating of the cake was irrelevant. The tradition was what mattered.
My maternal grandmother died December 16, 1964. We were all devastated. She was the indulgent figure in out lives. Her rare visits had a holiday quality. Her gifts were provided a few luxuries in our lives I couldn’t imagine life without her. She had mailed her Christmas gifts to us on the morning before she died in the night.. It arrived two or three days after her funeral. It was a macabre feeling, being anxious to find out what she’d sent, knowing she was in her grave.
In the way of kids everywhere, we rallied and had a wonderful Christmas. The gifts had special meaning, knowing they’d be the last. I still have a tiny jewelry box from that year. My poor brother managed to turn this sad situation into a mess. Grandma had included a small fruit cake in a red tin box. Mother put it up, intending to serve it on a special occasion. Naturally, this fruitcake from her mother was elevated to the sacred. Well, my brother Bill must have had a special occasion of his own. Mother found the empty fruitcake tin hidden in his room, not a crumb left.
She was furious! He had eaten her dead mother’s fruitcake……….the last gift she’d ever sent. He lived to regret his theft. She didn’t let him forget it for weeks, getting weepy every time she saw the shiny red box, sitting in a place of honor on the table. She keeps buttons and thread in that box till today.
This is probably the only documented story of anyone ever actually eating, much less stealing a fruitcake!