Fruitcake is the only tradition I have left

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By W.B. Evans

After making a quick dash to the grocery store last week, I found myself pinned against the ice cream case by a faithful reader.

“You do write a whole lot about times long ago,” she said.

Well, yeah, I thought to myself. That’s what “Remember When” is all about.

I share some stuff from long ago, hoping that folks can recall similar events from their younger days, too.

But that did put me in a thinking mood.

I reckon most of us do find a little joy in looking back at somewhat inconsequential things from childhood we relish, such as the value of scrap lumber and refrigerator cartons, going to the carnival and helping Mama make Christmas fruitcakes.  

And some of those experiences have been passed on from one generation to the next.

Take me and Mary.

For years, we followed many of the family customs and traditions dating back to our parents.

With Christmas approaching, we would pretty much follow a set routine of gathering gifts, decorating, turkey-buying and getting stuff in accordance with a time-honored plan.

But in giving that an honest assessment, it’s obvious to see some of those traditions and customs were built around our work schedules. It was the same way for our parents, too.

But times do change.

We have gotten older and retired from the daily 8-to-5 grind to great-grand parenthood.

Since our children and grandchildren have moved away from their Charlotte Road roots, their work schedules and vacation times have sorta shot buckshot through some of our die-hard holiday traditions.

These days, we follow their game plan, which includes staggered Christmas celebrations. Despite the best efforts, plans and miles won’t always mesh with tradition.

And finally, after a few of these make-do holidays, we’re finally getting into the groove of this new modern, multiple-Christmas get-togethers lifestyle.

What that means is this year, we will have any early Christmas in Lancaster and a traditional Christmas in Maryland.

Our children have adapted to this idea.  I think they handle the new program fairly well.

However, there is a missing part to this puzzle and it is an issue. They left out the Christmas fruitcake.

Now, I may bend to the breaking point, compromise or acquiesce on every unwritten Evans (and Rankin) family custom out there.

However. there will be  no wiggle room nor negotiation on fruitcake making. I have drawn a line in the sandbox and I will not compromise on Christmas present or Christmas future.   

That being said (and after a little grumbling), I headed to the mercantile with a shopping list that included dates, candied fruit, nuts and all of the other ingredients for a traditional Christmas fruitcake.

That’s what I was doing when the lady stopped me to talk about the old days.

To make a long story short, the fruitcake turned out perfect. I have already enjoyed a couple of slices with a cup of hot coffee.

Times change, jobs change, Bless Pete, everything changes.

But some things, like good fruitcake, never go out of style, despite how somebody else’s schedule is affected.

By golly, stand by your guns. Hold onto at least one tradition even if it’s fruitcake.