A Fruitcake Eater's Humiliation
When my five-year-old son, Ronnie, asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I replied, "Oh, just get me a nice fruitcake." Little did I know that my words would be well remembered. Yes, I am a fruitcake eater. Partly due to the influence of my grandparents and great-grandparents, there was always a fruitcake at our holiday table. The candied-fruit concoction harkens back to times long before refrigeration, when fruit of any kind was a rare treat during the long winter months in northern Europe and the United States. I carry on that tradition in my own home, and always have a fruitcake as part of our holiday week menu, though I am usually the only person who partakes of the quince, citron, cherry, pineapple, raisin, and walnut treat. Good fruitcakes are expensive, and it's the cheaply made low-cost fruitcakes sold in American supermarkets that have given the age-old confection such a bad name. But, woe unto me, even Father Christmas had a disparaging word about fruitcakes this year, partly due to the Christmas wish that I told to my son.
Yesterday I took my boy to the beautifully-decorated Fountain Square Mall in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. Every year it is filled with lovely Christmas lights, winter decorations, and, of course, Santa's throne, where kids can sit on the big guy's lap and tell him their Christmas wishes. Ronnie mailed his letter-to-Santa and we made our way to the base of the waterfall fountain for which the gift mall is named. That's where Santa has set up shop this year.
As Ronnie recited his every-growing list of hoped-for toys and games, he paused and said, "This is funny, but my dad wants a fruitcake for Christmas! Ha-ha-ha!" Santa started guffawing, too, and replied, "I think I have one in the bottom of my bag, left over from last year. I can bring it for your dad!" Then the two of them laughed and laughed. It was the jolliest Santa moment I had seen in a long time. And despite the annual humiliation that we fruitcake eaters must endure, I'm still looking forward to my holiday fruitcake treat. Even if it may be a year old.
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