by Tamara Howell
(Avon Ohio, USA)
Fruitcakes are an extreme source of embarrassment for my mother. In fact, no one who knows my mother well even mentions the word or would ever conceive of offering her a fruitcake. This unfortunate aspect of my childhood - life without fruitcakes - has its origins in her very early married life.
The first Christmas after my parents were married, my aunts descended on one of their kitchens and began the annual holiday fruitcake for relatives marathon. They didn't think to invite my mother because she worked outside the home.
The following day, they stopped at my family's house to deliver the prized traditional family fruitcake (made from a North Carolina recipe handed down for several generations). My mother, taken aback, thanked them, and as soon as she was sure they were gone, deposited the fruitcake in the circular file next to the sink. She hated fruitcake, but didn't want to hurt their feelings.
My father returned from work several minutes later and didn't notice anything. He didn't see my aunt's gloves lying on the counter either.
The end of the story is probably painfully obvious. Of course my aunt remembered leaving her gloves at our house. Of course she stopped back to pick them up and saw the fruitcake. I am told the first Christmas at my dad's father's house was quite a strained affair.
They never offered her a fruitcake again. They never invited her to bake with them. The moral of the story? If you encounter a fruitcake you don't like, please, please PLEASE dispose of it safely and quietly.