Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Fruitcake Tradition

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
Many, many years ago I watched a movie titled "A Christmas Memory." I don't know why the film stuck with me or how it would impact me every Christmas after I'd married. A wonderful actress, Geraldine Page, played a developmentally challenged old woman living somewhere in the rural South. She and her teenage cousin Buddy lived in poverty, but saved their meager funds to buy ingredients to make fruitcakes. One of these fruitcakes ended up being mailed to President Roosevelt.
The annual fruitcake-baking tradition could have been Truman Capote's observational way of writing with his natural dialogue that could have been a semi-autobiographical telling of his upbringing. He wrote about familiar comforts of the people from the south by illustrating one of their traditions in this movie.
When I got married and met my new mother-in-law, I learned about 'the' recipe for fruitcakes that she made every Thanksgiving. This is the forty-ninth year that I've made three batches of her recipe – the recipe makes six small cakes. We give all but one of the 18 cakes away to people in our community who've been kind to us, businesses that have treated us well, friends, and family. A lot of people say they don't like to eat fruitcake (we all know fruitcakes have a bad reputation), but on many occasions the doubters dared to take a taste of my fruitcake and let me know they loved it. I smile because I've heard it so often. I love it when the people who enjoy the cake, smile warmly when I tell them I've been baking the cakes and they will be ready to send out in a while.
These cakes are my favorite part of Christmas. It's my way of saying thank you. And, then there is the three hours of baking at a low temperature where the house smells heavenly.
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Will Hank Hughes get a second chance at love? Temperance Jameson walked into his office looking for employment. She soon proved she could handle herself in his kitchen, her grace and self-assurance sparked a long-forgotten feeling. Will she awaken his heart?
Temperance faced an over-welling task of preparing three meals a day for the huge trading post family, but she'd do anything to please her hard-working boss. After a couple of months, he insisted she sit at the head of the dining table next to him. It not only established her coveted place in the family, but exposed his feelings for her.
Tempie is worried Hank isn't over his grief. When a haunting melody from his dead wife's past turns up, will it draw him back to his memories of his wife or release him to make a new life with her?
"I've asked Tempie to take a walk with me this evening. I'm drowning with doubt. Am I crazy to, uh to..."
"It's that serious?"
"Yes, and since you managed to live through your courtship with Genevieve unscathed, I thought you might give me pointers on how to court Tempie."
Big Dog's unbound laughter had Hank shaking his head.
"You want me to help you court our Tempie?"
Hank nodded. "Why are you laughing? You don't think I'm good enough for her?"
"No, no, no, not at all. In fact, I'm wondering what's taken you so long. My God man, the woman is lovely, caring, a great cook, and according to my wife, she's ummm -- fond, no maybe interested, no wondering how to get you to notice her as a woman, not just as your cook."
"What? Are you sure?"
"I don't pay attention to those kinds of things, but Genevieve does. It's a woman thing. We men are at their mercy."
Hank leaned back against the wall. What am I getting myself into? Could Genevieve be right? Had he not been paying attention to Tempie? Not lately with the mess their preacher made and Danielle's wedding to Jax.
"You're being very quiet, Boss. What are you thinking?"
"I've been a blind fool in regards to romancing her."
Big Dog shook his head. "No, you're not any kind of fool. If you want a fool, look at me. How many years did I moon over my wife? I never thought I was good enough to be her husband and what did it get me? Nothing is what. If you're tired of going to bed alone every night, get your act together and court the lady."


  1. Paisley, my mother loved fruitcake. Not many people do, so it seems. My sister and I do, but we like our jam-packed with fruit and nuts, but I don't like raisins in mine. Once when the family finances were low because Pop was trying to help our older sister and her family, we didn't have the usual fruitcake. Mom, always inventive about dealing with what was available, made fruitcakes with gum drops instead of fruit and nuts. The truth is, I loved it way better than the usual way.
    I love Big Dog's advice to Hank. PERMANENTLY YOURS looks like a fine and enjoyable story.
    I wish you all the best, Paisley. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Sarah. The Big Dog I used as the prototype of this character is in all the other stories in this series as well. He is a perfect person to carry this character.

  2. I'm one of the few on earth who loves fruitcake..even that cheap stuff in can from..oh, Wal-MART. But I really appreciate a good fruit cake.
    Once, I had a U-Tube video labeled "can a fruitcake stop a speeding bullet?" Four mean with rifles shot into fruit cakes set along a fence. It was hilarious. But I can't find it anymore. Mother made a wonderful fruitcake that was so preserved, it might have stayed good for a year. But we ate all of it.

    1. I always tell people when I give them their first fruitcake that if they don't like it, just tell me and I won't give them anymore. It doesn't hurt my feelings because I know the reputation. Almost all of them bring compliments. :)

  3. Paisley, your post brings back one of my favorite memories of Christmas. My mother had a ritual for her fruitcake that still makes me laugh. It was an old family recipes. A dark fruitcake from our Scots ancestry. She would bake it, pour whiskey over it, wrap it in cheesecloth, then waxed paper, then aluminum foil and put it in the china cabinet. Each Sunday during Advent, she would light an Advent candle then unwrap her fruitcake. She would drizzle more whiskey over it, then reapply the layers of wrapping. By the time Christmas Eve came, she sat us down and we watched as she gracefully unwrapped the fruitcake, layer by layer. The potent smell of that whiskey is branded in my memory. LOL Anyway, I DO like fruitcake!

    1. What a great memory for you. I think the bad reputation of fruitcakes may be robbing younger people from making those great memories.

    2. YES!!! Ashley, that fruitcake. OMG! I thought it was rum and something else. Do you still have her recipe?
      LOVE that fruitcake. Okay, if it's fruitcake, I will eat it even that really cheap one in the grocery store. Fortunately Christmas only comes once a year.

  4. Some fruitcakes I love, some not so much. Yours sounds like a tasty one and I wish you had shared the recipe. I used to make Zucchini bread and banana nut bread to combine with cookies and fudge and give away to friends and neighbors. Since we moved fouor years ago, I haven't--but who knows about this year.

    1. I rarely give the recipe away because if it gets out, I wouldn't have the great gifts anymore. It's the only fruitcake that I've ever liked. Thank you for visiting.


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