Christmas is supposed to be sweet


Christmas is a lot of things: sweet, sentimental, meaningful and heart-rending, but sometimes it’s different. As the Grinch pointed out, sometimes it’s a little bit more. Dr. Seuss was thinking kindly when he penned the words, but we know Christmas, as in Christmas gifts, can be troublesome.

My precious Gram would make us a fruitcake every Christmas and I tried as gently as I could to say not everyone loves fruitcake, but still she did it. For those who don’t know, making this breadlike dessert is neither simple nor cheap. It takes loads of time and loads of cash. Among other things, there are butter, walnuts, pecans, almond and vanilla extracts and a plethora of candied fruits like pineapple, cherries, oranges, raisins, ginger and dates. There’s cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and heaping cups of brown sugar. And there are treks out the door to not one, but two stores: the corner market for all the essentials and the liquor store for whiskey. This gets poured over cheesecloth and wrapped around like a snug blanket, and if I was a drinking woman, I’d probably like fruitcake a lot more than I do … for obvious reasons.
To be fair, some folks like fruitcake, though it’s not understood why both of those people do. Maybe they’ve read the recipe, “Everyone’s Favorite Fruitcake,” and believe it to be true. It’s not, and I’m sad to say it, but it’s just a dreadful Christmas tradition, and the reason I know this is not merely from watching sullen teenagers being made to nibble it for Gram’s sake, though that did make it almost worth having Gram bring one over every year. No, there have also been two news articles about it just last year proving me right.
The first newspaper printed a story stating that authorities were informed that a wrapped present had been left under a tree at a Seattle ferry terminal right there in the pedestrian waiting area. Who would leave a wrapped present? Washington State Trooper Fortino said it was suspicious, but my first thought, knowing my own lack of brainpower when it comes to remembering, was a forgetful person forgot it. Perhaps an older woman had sat down to rest and laid the package on the floor. It had gotten pushed under the tree by a rambunctious grandchild she’d taken shopping and since she had several bags, boxes and bundles, she hadn’t realized she’d left it. That sounded reasonable to me since I’ve had this type of malarkey happen to me multiple times. 
Officer Fortino mentioned that the package was considered suspect due to the fact that it was unmarked and there was only one gift. With my scenario, this wouldn’t have seemed odd not to have a name on it. When a store wraps a gift, you don’t put the recipient on it until you get home, and then you get to enjoy playing a really fun version of a guessing game as to which package is for who. I promise you, I’m well aware.
So, the officials evacuated the terminal and kept all inbound ferries away for a half-hour while the bomb squad thoroughly investigated. It was found to be a fruitcake, and even though that seemed to me to settle the matter completely, the investigator said it wasn’t clear why it was left. Please, do I have to draw you a picture? Someone, obviously someone smarter than me and I’m jealous, found a way to relieve themselves of the burden of carrying it for one more minute. God bless this brainchild.
The second article was about a tornado. When it tore through Laurel, Miss., it cleared a path, destroying businesses and leading to the demolition of others. Before it was done, 135 structures were damaged and once beautiful communities were flattened. One family saw the tornado tear the roof off their residence, and as it did, the kitchen counters were swept clear. As it plowed through the home, nearly everything was damaged, but there were two exceptions. One cabinet full of dishes were left as though they’d just been washed and put away, and the other anomaly was a cake left untouched on a sideboard. The journalist reporting this news felt the dessert may have been a pound cake, though the article didn’t elaborate on why that was a consideration. Trust me, it was an erroneous determination. I’m not a guessing gal, I’m telling you right here beyond a shadow of a doubt, that forlorn bread-and-booze concoction was a fruitcake, and not even a tornado wants a fruitcake.

Trena Eiden [email protected]

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