The Gift That Keeps on Giving

We have all been there. Being presented with the dreaded fruit cake during holiday gift giving. This Christmas Eve it was my turn. And so I sat with a frozen smile as my mother-in-law proudly bestowed the brilliant golden box before me. My three sisters moved their chairs closer and looked on with feigned interest and hidden smirks. The lovely box was adorned with a bright red bow and contained several descriptive lines describing its contents; “Light as a feather and made with love from mother…” I pondered what mother, could do that to her family? The enticing prose of the copywriter flowed “a painstaking seven day process to perfection in each loaf…” seven days might provide an explanation for the rock hardness of the cake. And then the final line, “Bringing Families Together for Centuries.” Or apart for years. The real reason why families members don’t speak? Someone gifted another with a fruit cake.

Returning home that evening, I placed the gift on my kitchen counter furiously contemplating to whom I could pass it on. The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” echoed in and out of my consciousness. Glancing again at the festive box it represented a cruel dichotomy – the outside Dr. Jekyll, the inside Mr. Hyde. In the end, I did the only reasonable thing possible. Pay it forward.

Our home borders a hundred acre nature preserve with every creature imaginable in residence. Waiting till night fall I carried the fruit cake out to the woods and removed it from the box. I gingerly placed it just off the walking trail near a bush resembling a small Christmas tree. With a new found lightness in my step I returned home. God Bless us everyone! The next morning I poured myself a cup of coffee and made my way outside. Approaching the tree underneath where I had laid it, I stared in confusion. The cake in all its splendor stood – untouched. Several pieces of fruit had been dislodged from the foundation and now lay scattered aside amid a large chunk of crumbled cake. I imagined a wily raccoon, delighted with his Christmas morning find, removing several with his delicate paws, gobbling them furiously and then realizing like his human counterparts, he had been duped. It was a fruit cake plain and simple.

Published by Kathy Simmons

I am an ex New Yorker who still misses the vibrancy of the city. I seek out the humor in every day life and relay it through my stories in the hope others will appreciate as well. I love to write about growing up with my fantastically unique Irish mother whose memory inspires me every day. Although she is no longer with us, her antics are an endless staple for my tales. I currently live in Connecticut with my husband, two sons and toy fox terrier Anabel.

10 thoughts on “The Gift That Keeps on Giving

  1. But I love panettone and I love fruit cake! The former is so light and fragrant with citrus peel, barely like a ‘real’ fruit cake at all. But both are so delicious, how can you not welcome them as gifts?! I always bake a large rich fruit cake for Christmas AND we buy a panettone, even though there are only two of us t eat it 😆

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    1. In the U.S. there is a particular type of fruit cake that is nowhere near up to the standards of the authentic Italian panettone. That is the fruit cake of which I write — often hard, stale with terrible stale candies. Understand that an authentic panettone can indeed be delicious. The one I received was an American version and tasted awful. Hope I did not offend Toonsarah, It is often a running joke about how many dislike fruitcakes…at least the unauthentic versions🌝

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  2. Hihhhh! I hope no Italians read this. Here in Italy Panettone is rather cherished. My amore adores it. It’s never hard. I don’t think over there it is done as it should be, a week or two weeks. Funny though. 😀

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    1. I’m beginning to think I made a mistake in writing this story and would not dream of offending. Perhaps I should have not mentioned the word Panettone and simply referred to throughout as “fruitcake.” Truly, the American version is nowhere near the quality of the authentic Italian Pannettone…

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      1. Hm… I wonder if it would be as effective without the mention of Panettone. I’m not Italian and clearly not offended but I know how they are. SOOOO touchy about their food. If you make it known in the text that their Panettone is a far cry from the original, Italians would be pleased. 🙂

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  3. I’m just catching up with some of your posts, but I’m intrigued to know what finally became of the ‘delicious’ fruit cake that even the animals turned their noses up at? I was given a panettone last year, albeit a vegan one, so it lacked that soft texture and buttery flavour that those cakes usually have. Even though I am vegan and have been for a couple of years now, I have to confess that it was awful. As dry as a bone and no matter how much I chewed it, it was like chewing on a lump of concrete (not that I’ve had that experience – just guessing!) If you get given the same thing next year, you could melt some butter or margarine, mix it with the cake crumbs, and turn it into fat balls for the birds. They might appreciate it (or perhaps not). A very entertaining and funny post – I enjoyed it. Thanks.

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    1. I so appreciate you reading my stories!!!! When I found the cake untouched in the woods I brought it back into my house and served a slice to my husband for breakfast. LOL only joking. I am sorry to say it remained untouched by humans as well as woodland creatures 🙂

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