I came out of the oven and into this world on November 1, 2017. That’s a bit premature for a holiday goodie, but I’m a fruitcake.
I learned a lot about myself as Grandma (my creator) put me together. A good fruitcake should be seen and not heard. So, I kept quiet and listened. Grandma says she and I get better with age and that was why she was putting me together early. She said lots of people through the years had asked for her recipe but it was a secret that would go to the grave with her. She said she wasn’t leaving much when she left this world and would be darned if her cherished memory would be messed up by some half-baked amateurs passing out fruitcakes that turned out to be a disaster and saying it was her recipe.
Anyway, I sat on a cooling rack by the window for a couple of hours. Outside, the autumn leaves still had a leaf or two left to fall and Mabel the Moneycat sat curled up on the kitchen chair. It was all very relaxing – nothing in comparison to the whirlwind existence I would experience later.
Grandma brushed me with some brandy, and I am sure if I were tested at this point, I couldn’t have said “Methodist Episcopal.” Just when I thought life couldn’t be any sweeter, she wrapped me in cheesecloth and put me in the pantry on the back shelf to “get better with age!” I was in heaven.
I must have dozed off, for the next thing I knew Grandma was waking me up and saying, “This one goes to the Church Christmas Bazaar bake table.” I was put in a clear plastic bag so I could see everyone. It was tied at the end with a big red ribbon and a tag that said Grandma’s Famous Holiday Fruitcake. I was proud.
My day on the bake table was a learning experience. I was difficult to categorize. I wasn’t in the pie or cake or cookie family. So, it became the fate of this fruitcake to be segregated from the rest of my fellow sweets at the end of the table with a bag of nuts and some big cheese in a basket.
People wrote their names on a piece of paper in front of our basket and put the piece of paper in a box. I was be RAFFLED! I found it all very degrading.
At the end of the bazaar, one name was pulled out of the box and that person was handed the basket with me included. The big cheese maneuvered its way to the top of the basket as we headed…somewhere.
I think I was in a station wagon with a family because I heard a woman yell, “Keep Puddles in the back away from that basket of food.” It was the nicest thing I had been called all day. I remained tentative as to what species “Puddles” might be.
The ride came to an end quickly. I felt the motion of the basket being swung. Then all was still. The nuts made their way to the fancy crystal bowl and the big cheese went into the refrigerator. I sat on the counter with several sets of eyes looking at me.
“What are you going to do with that, Mom?” What does this kid mean, “that!” I AM A FRUITCAKE! I SYMBOLIZE THE HOLIDAYS! I AM A PART OF EVERY GREAT CHRISTMAS STORY AND LEGEND YOU CAN THINK OF! HOW DARE YOU SPEAK OF ME IN THAT TONE!
At last, I realized, what is the use. I am a fruitcake, incarcerated behind a plastic bag with no voice, no feelings, and no means of representation. I listened. One of the sets of eyes that belonged to a woman said to the set of eyes that belonged to a child, “Jenny, you can take this to school tomorrow as a gift for Ms. Franklin.”
Jenny shrugged an OK. If they were happy to get rid of me, I was just as happy to be leaving here. Especially, since I realized that the one set of eyes that remained belonged to Puddles – a huge Golden Retriever.
It had been a long trying day. I welcomed the quiet and the safety of the top of the refrigerator. I rested, regained my composure and anticipated life with Ms. Franklin, a schoolteacher. It sounded promising. Jenny took me out the door the next morning. I actually rode the yellow school bus.
That evening, I sat as a slice on an English bone china dish that matched the cup of tea beside me. This was more like it. It was my ultimate moment. I was going to be appreciated. Ms. Franklin found me so tasty that she said I was just like her Mother’s famous fruitcake. The next afternoon, I was on another field trip to Ms. Franklin’s mother’s house for a visit and afternoon tea.
This time I was in aluminum foil so all I could do was listen.
“Mother, I brought some fruitcake I received as a gift. It is the first time I’ve ever tasted a fruitcake as good as yours. Please have a slice with your tea.”
“My Dear, you can’t be serious.” says Ms. Franklin’s mother. “Where is this imposter!”
I began to sense the light of day, feel the warm sun pouring in the window and…see Mabel the Moneycat curled up on the kitchen chair! I was home! I had survived! I had returned to the origin of my birth!
As Grandma (my creator) sampled my corner, she muttered, “This fruitcake doesn’t come near my famous fruitcake. My fruitcakes have my special touch that make them unique.”