Fruitcakes – the gifts that keep on giving.

I like the ones that look and feel like bricks.

I like the ones in a circle with giant chunks of candied fruit protruding.

I don’t trust the cake-y ones. A chunk of fruitcake should offer some resistance when you pick it up. A stomach should know it’s been fed fruitcake. What’s the point if it just looks and tastes like cake?

I tried to make fruitcake at home a couple of times. Mine didn’t have the heft and the mysterious bits of things that surface from the ones you can order.

A friend makes a credible plum pudding with hard sauce. It bakes in a small, circular pan and after everyone else is done with it, sometimes she freezes the leftovers for me. The good thing about this is that, old or new, a hefty holiday treat looks and tastes the same after weeks.

Somehow words make this sound unappetizing. But my mouth waters and I am signing off now, headed to the kitchen to brew some strong coffee that is almost worthy of my once-a-year fruitcake festival. Sadly, I had to buy one at the market, because I haven’t yet ordered the best one available.

I have a favorite source for fruitcake. It’s Collin Street Bakery in Texas. This is not a paid announcement. It’s a sincere wish that I’d already ordered one from them so that while I’m writing this on a December Sunday afternoon, I could have a slice.

My mother introduced me to them by passing along to me all the fruitcakes her Southern friends ever sent her. Several were from Collin Street Bakery and I was immediately addicted. I love these people for making their almost-too-heavy-to-lift, DeLuxe Fruitcake. Look them up online, and be sure you ask for the DeLuxe. Big D. Big L.

My Own Christmas Newsletter. Spoiler Alert – Includes Swine Flu

December, 2009

        It may be better to give than receive, but I’d rather read your newsletters and cards than try to remember the past year in enough detail to write my own.

        Memory isn’t always accurate in my case.  A friend once accused me of “painting the past in pastels.”  I beg to differ.  Every writer I know paints the past in different colors but not all of them are pale. I don’t always note in which months these things took place, but I do recall the emotion vividly.

        Our little Caedan Ray had swine flu.  It began with symptoms of a regular flu but perhaps because it happened sometime in summer, an alert doctor tested for H1N1 and that’s what it was.  Immediately Caedan was quarantined with her mommy. Even her dad, Edan, couldn’t be close to her.  I wanted to go to L.A. to help, but the doctor wouldn’t allow that either.

        One of the most frightening parts was that one day Caedan got quieter and more pale and lay down on the floor. Cathleen rushed her back to the doctor where she was found to be oxygen-depleted and put on respiratory therapy. This disease can affect lungs so quickly and with terrifying results. Better news – Cathleen had a “regular” flu, but no one else close to them got Swine Flu.

        Caedan started Kindergarten in September, the youngest in her class.  She has just now turned 5. So far so good.  She loves school.  Loves the work and according to her teacher, loves visiting (too much it seems) with her schoolmates.

        I remain in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, while my family is in southern California, so I spend a good deal of time commuting.  It’s worth it for the blessed fog and redwoods near me – and then the warm reception I receive when I show up at the door to my girls’ place.

        My biggest thrill so far this year (There are still a few days left and I wouldn’t mind another big thrill.  Are you listening, Santa?) was winning the John Steinbeck Short Story Award for my story, “Hank Williams Was A Friend Of Mine” which is from my collection in progress.

        I hope each of you has some pastel-colored memory to keep.  

                                               Anita

 

  

© Anita Garner 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is too far away.

Last month a local radio station played Christmas music and called it “Christmas In July.”  I was right there, singing along.  Our local American Cancer Society Discovery Shop also declared it was “Christmas In July” and devoted half of the store to decorations, special china, the works. I browsed but didn’t buy.

Now that it’s August, Christmas still seems too far away.   I could use a little Christmas right now.

Every year I buy at least one new holiday CD.  Last year it was Yo Yo Ma’s “Songs Of Joy & Peace”  which features guest stars, among them  Diana Krall and James Taylor.  I’m humming those songs and seriously considering taking my holiday music collection out of storage. 

It’s been a long time since Christmas created any kind of frenzy in my life.  I don’t shop all that much even during the season, but I look forward to a round of trading meals and baked goods and conviviality with friends.  

I’ve now settled into more of an appreciation of how Christmas looks and sounds and smells and of course, how nice everyone is to everyone else.

With this  weather, it’s hard to picture lights twinkling from every window the way they do in December, but if I squint and use my imagination…

Ó Anita Garner 2009