The Year I Gave Fruitcakes
(San Antonio, TX)
In my family, homemade fruitcake is a tradition, and it's nothing like the candied fruit monstrosities that you buy in a tin at Wal-Mart. It's all dried fruit and ginger and fine brandy and the house smells like heaven for three days after I make them.
When I first got married, I had the bright idea of sending out my thank you notes around Christmas and sharing that family tradition with all of the guests that had come. I spent a full day soaking fruit in brandy, mixing together the batter and dosing it lovingly into little holiday baking tins. I wrapped them with white ribbon and the thank you note attached and then shipped them off all over.
Not a soul outside my family recognized them as fruitcake. I got dozens of calls asking for the recipe, asking what kind of cake it was. Always "No, really... That was fruitcake?" A couple of friends that had been guests of my family during the season called and thanked me. One of my husband's coworkers (he's a chef) called me to thank me for the best bread pudding fodder ever.
This is the fourth year that I'll be sending out fruitcakes again. Every year I offer to send out cookie packages or fudge or hot cocoa mix, but my friends and family all request fruitcake. My gift has become their tradition.