Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Fruitcake, YUCK!

Okay, folks.  I have to admit I've been a bit of a passive reader during this year's Advent season of blogging.  It's not so much that I haven't wanted to post, but I've been doing most of my reading from my phone while on the run, so I just haven't really had the opportunity to post.  But, the FRUITCAKE topic is one that I just can't let pass me by.  Reading all of your posts has dredged up some very "sticky" memories for me, and I just have to share!

Fruitcake - YUCK!  Just thinking about it really grosses me out, so this post won't be long.  However, along with the stomach-churning reminders of my youthful encounters with this holiday atrocity, I have a fond recollection of one of the many "secrets" that I shared with my brother, Arthur, whom my regular readers might remember left me when he was 23, and I was 22, as a result of primary liver cancer.

Every year, right around Christmas, at least one white cellophane-wrapped box with pictures of fruit, and the horrifying label, "Fruitcake" would appear in our house and be placed on the buffet table in the dining room.  Occasionally, there would also be someone's foil-wrapped idea of a "present" to my mother, their principal, or my father, their mailman.  These lovely tokens of terror would also be placed on the buffet table, alongside any other (supposedly) edible gifts, and there they would sit, until one day -- it would happen.  My brother and I would be sitting at the kitchen table, innocently finishing up our dinner, and in would walk one of our parents (usually our mother) with two slices of the multi-colored, putrid-smelling, icky-sticky FRUITCAKE!  Arthur and I would moan and groan as they set them before us, telling us how "good" the stuff was for us, and how nice Mr. and/or Mrs. So-and-So was to give this to us.  As with all foods our parents put before us, we were told that we had to stay at the table until we ate it.  (Usually, this admonishment came along with the reminder of all the starving children in Africa, who'd had nothing to eat for days and days, and how GRATEFUL they would be just to have a tiny piece of this FRUITCAKE.  My brother and I would always give each other a knowing look which said, "If only we could send it to them, we would!" But, we knew better to let the words come out of our mouths, because in those days we would have been sent immediately to get a switch off the tree! But, I digress...) 
Anyway, my brother and I were pretty smart (and stubborn) kids.  Although I do have a vague memory of someone trying to physically force me to take a bite of something one time, I don't think it was fruitcake.  (I think that was those big, round hominy grits.)  Instead, our parents were just content to let us stay at the table for as long as it took for the fruitcake to disappear, and since it would have taken 100 years for the stuff to begin to disinegrate, Arthur and I had to come up with other ways to get rid of it, without letting it ever touch our lips.  So we did.
Plan 1:  The Dutch Shoes - Arthur and I ate at the kitchen table, usually alone. Adjacent to the kitchen was the dining room, and on the dining room floor sat a pair of large, wooden shoes that my parents had brought back from Holland.  We were pretty much forbidden to touch or play with these shoes, but for us, they served an important purpose; they were an excellent hiding place, and we used them on more than one occasion!  So, while one of us would be on the lookout for approaching parents, the other would wrap the fruitcake in a napkin and slip quickly and quietly into the dining room, to stuff the fruited-wad into one of the shoes.  We were always smart enough to leave a few large crumbs behind on the plate, so that it appeared that we actually ate the stuff, but we never, ever did.  Then, we would call to our parents that we were ready to get up.  One of them would come to make sure the fruitcake was gone, and we'd be allowed to leave the table. Later that evening, or sometimes the next day (if we remembered), one of us would get the lumpy package out of the toe of the shoe and take it with us to the bathroom,where it was finally flushed away to fruitcake heaven.

Plan 2: The Under-Table Stick - This wasn't nearly as elaborate a plan as The Dutch Shoes, but sometimes, a kid's just gotta do, what a kid's gotta do!  So, when the parents weren't too nearby for either of us to get up and into the dining room without being noticed, we'd just pretend to be eating the gummy stuff, but as we were gagging (Arthur) and crying (me), we'd simply be sticking the pieces of fruitcake to the underside of the table, a piece at a time, until it was "gone"! 

Addendum to Plan 2:  Years later, when we were in our teens, our parents got a new kitchen set.  I happened to be at home the day that the old table was removed, and guess what was revealed when it was turned upside down to be carried out of the house? :)

Needless to say, if you want me to consider you a true friend, don't ever send me a fruitcake!

I don't have a picture of the fruitcake (thankfully), but here we sit, Arthur and I, at that very kitchen table.  Aren't we just the picture of innocence? :)

3 comments:

Kristin said...

you all are too cute. i'm so sorry, really, that you had such a bad experience with bad fruitcake! i can't imagine being forced (so they thought) to eat dessert! hey, if the kids don't want it, more for me is my motto!

Carol said...

Love the photos, you are just toooo cute. Love the story

DO NOT LOVE FRUITCAKE, don't send it here either! LOL

Greta Koehl said...

Naughty intentions behind angelic faces - this is a classic (both the post and the picture)!