Probably one of the most debated holiday treats of the season, along the lines of eggnog, is that odd confection known as fruitcake, our prompt for today. Covered in radioactive candied fruits and heavier than a brick, according to polls, more people despise this dessert than love it here in the States. I didn’t grow up with this particular dessert as my family was in the majority. My mother would often quote Johnny Carson saying, “The worst Christmas gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” Since a fruitcake can be aged up to 25 years and still be edible, this is actually entirely plausible. While I do enjoy an aged wine, aged cake is not something that sounds quite as appealing. But like ugly sweaters, fruitcake is one of those wonderful bits of the season that appears each year and always makes people smile, even if for very different reasons.
Philippe has mentioned that he likes fruitcake and even considered making some this year. I think the plan has changed, which is a shame, as I might have actually liked his version. The ones found in shops look rather terrifying and unappetizing, like a handful of gummy bears were slaughtered in a battle. Instead, we opt for a Panettone by a local bakery. It still has candied fruits, but they’re far smaller and politely hidden on the inside. We get excited each year to see it arrive and will start checking around Thanksgiving. The earlier the we get one, the faster it will disappear and we can then enjoy at least two each season before the Panettone disappears for the year. I adore these little traditions that mark the season. Even the things I don’t enjoy, I appreciate seeing them arrive each year. It’s a comforting feeling to know that no matter how many things change in the world, there are still things stubbornly remaining.
And I’m now on full countdown mode as there are just a few days left until Christmas Eve! As I’ve mentioned before, we slowly exchange all gifts throughout a prolonged evening of dinner and treats. Candles are lit and the whole house buzzes with holiday cheer. Even Phineas, who’s typically sneezing with disapproval at most things, seems to be caught up in the happy glow. I’ve only wrapped half of the gifts, as I’m rather horrible at wrapping and it takes me far longer than it should. I have a gift from Phineas for Philippe and thought I would wrap it as though the dog did it himself, but wasn’t sure he’d be able to easily spot the difference. But soon all gifts will be concealed and if I place them in just the right direction under the tree they’ll look just like they’ve been wrapped by a sane person. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter how they’re wrapped or if there’s something wonderful or silly inside. It’s the thought that counts, like a gift of fruitcake.
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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Quinacridone Red, Hansa Yellow Deep, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, Cobalt Blue and Payne’s Gray. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
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