Posted by: Jim E | December 16, 2017

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

 

I wrote this about 1995, give or take a few years, I really can’t pinpoint the year…I think I have shared this every year since then in some form or another…with some audience or another…read it to the students at school over the intercom…gave it as a Christmas letter…Oh, all kinds of ways…I always thought it was about my Grandma and her fruitcake she always made…but in the end it became something more…I don’t really know what it will be for you…but enjoy Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake and all the love that always came with it…

There are all kinds of jokes and stories about fruitcakes…there is one that says…there are only so many fruitcakes that have ever been made in the world and they are the same ones being given away every year…or the one that fruitcakes are good for something, like a doorstop…and another, that the post office this time of year puts out a warning…if you get a package with no return address, it is over 5 pounds and it smells funny, be careful, it may be a fruitcake…and it goes on and on…

But I can tell a story about fruitcake and about a woman who made them…it was my grandmother…Grandma Reggin, my mom’s mother…she is the only one I know who made fruitcake and did what is suppose to be done with them…gave them away…

Grandma was born in 1896…in fact she would have been 114 years old last July…she lived a little over 72 years…and she could cook and bake…and she made fruitcake…every year, I always ate a little fruitcake but never cared much for it…the candied fruit was a little much for me…but my Grandpa Reggin, he loved it…he loved the candied fruit, the nuts, the spices and the dark cake, full of flavor…he loved everything about fruitcake…and because he was a hero to me…I tried to eat it…but just couldn’t get into it…

My Grandma, at Christmas time, when people visited, would put out ample slices of fruitcake, and I would watch while the Hungry Boy cookies, the decorated sugar cookies and the date-filled cookies, that my Grandma was famous for, would disappear…but much of the fruitcake was still on the plate…

My Grandfather, as I said, loved fruitcake…and he really liked it with a real cup of coffee…(Grandpa was a coffee roaster for McGarvey Coffee Company in Minneapolis…I use to go and watch him roast those green beans that had no smell…into those dark beans we know as coffee beans…full of aroma)…and by a real cup of coffee, I mean he wanted one that, as he put it, “That I can stand a spoon up in.”…and maybe a little cream…and he would savor that fruitcake with that “real cup” of coffee…I can see that picture in my mind, and “I savor” that time with him…

So Grandma would make fruitcake…I mean she made fruitcake!…we lived next door to my grandparents and I went over there everyday…and close to Christmas every year she would begin to bake in earnest…she made pounds of fruitcake…wrapped them in waxed paper, “tin foil” and ribbon…and put them on the unheated covered back porch to keep fresh until she gave them away…she also made Hungry Boy cookies by the hundreds and other cookies to give away…she would give them to the paperboy, milkman, mailman, at the gas station, the meter reader…just anyone who provided service to her during the year…and off they would go with some cookies and of course a fruitcake to share at home…it was her gift of love at Christmas…

No doubt I loved Grandma very much…her modeling this love at Christmas…her unselfishness and devotion to others came out often…when anyone would criticize someone…she would say, “You just don’t understand.”…the idea was, if you only understood, you would not criticize…never an unkind word came out of her mouth, at least in my presence…she was without peer in that area of life…

I remember getting in the car with her and going down to pick up my Grandpa after work…I would go with her often when I was quite young…and especially the day or so before Christmas, when she and I would load up the old Plymouth with all the precious cargo she had made…go down to McGarvey’s and take the bounty into the office area and the giving would begin…

It was an large open office area…with all the desks in a row…and down at the far end, behind glass walls, were the offices of the president and other officers…and in we walked…Grandma in front and me trailing behind carrying my share…as we passed each desk, she would place some cookies, all wrapped up…and of course, a fruitcake at each desk…they all thanked her and talked to her as we went on with our Christmas giving…

And as we inched toward the president’s office, I was apprehensive…but my Grandmother was not…she was a simple woman…as people would look at her today and even then…but not to me and to those who knew her…she was kind, generous and loving…and did not hold a negative thought about anyone…nor that they would ever think anything negative about her…that was her attitude and it was disarming then as it is today…it didn’t really matter what the president or those in the other offices were doing, she would stand there patiently…and they would always stop what they were doing and come out to wish her “Merry Christmas”…talk for a while…thank her for her gifts and we would leave…I don’t know if anyone else could have got away with that…but she did…

So this wonderful woman, who spent some of her growing up years in an orphanage, because her mother could not take care of her…had four children…all raised in a house 20 feet by 40 feet…and out of that kitchen in that house came a legacy which I share with you today…one of giving and love…it was Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…

And at the end of her life…I sat on the hospital bed next to what had become a frail body of this marvelous woman…and leaned over and took her beautiful face in my hands…kissed her and told her again, the wonderful gospel story of Jesus…who came as a babe, who lived and died for her…who was waiting for her…to escort her home…and for the last time told her I loved her…and let her go…

I wish you Joy, Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…


Responses

  1. Hey Jim,

    Love your writing and stories. But, I am finding I am no longer reading them, sorry.

    I have tried unsubscribing many times through the avenues set up through wordpress. Unsuccessfully…

    Please take this email address off your list. Thanks

    *Have a blessed day!* *Cherie’ Stone*

    On Sat, Dec 16, 2017 at 10:01 AM, Your Roving Reporter wrote:

    > Jim E posted: ” Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You… I wrote > this about 1995, give or take a few years, I really can’t pinpoint the > year…I think I have shared this every year since then in some form or > another…with some audience or another…read it to the” >

    • Cherie…sorry to see you go…I will try and take you off the list…I have never done it before and I don’t see how to do it readily…but will try and see…thanks…Jim E

  2. What a beautiful story. I love the idea of modeling love at Christmas. This is an idea I am trying to spread this holiday season to spread some joy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hidlnk1NC10 If you like it, please share it. Thanks, Rita

    • Rita…thanks…Jim E

  3. Hi Jim! I have loved reading your “Grandma’s Fruitcake” story every year since the very first year I subscribed to your blog. It reminds me so much of both of my Grandmas as I was growing up and it gives me peace. I loved spending as much time with them as possible. They were completely different, yet both had so much wisdom to offer, just from different perspectives. My Grandma Margie was an amazing seamstress (not by trade; she just sewed at home a lot). She taught me how to sew and I still have the aprons that we sewed (matching of course). I loved putting on my apron and cooking with her. I can honestly say that I’ve never tried a fruitcake that I like. Then again, I’ve never had one from an “older” recipe. If you have your Grandma’s recipe, I’d love to try making it (if you’d be willing to share the recipe). I have both of my Grandma’s cookie recipes and fudge recipes. Only one of my Grandmas made fruitcake and I’ve never found her recipe in any of her recipe boxes. Have a very Merry Christmas!! ~Julie

    • Julie…what a wonderful comments…it just helps make my Christmas to hear from you and your comments about your Grandmothers…what a great legacy…as you know, I feel the same way…my one Grandma died when I was in 6th grade…I have some wonderful memories but not like my other Grandma…they lived right next door to us, went over everyday…living next to them was a Hallmark life, they were in our lives everyday, so important to me…both heroes to me…both Grandma and Grandpa were wonderful Grandparents…

      You said that you have never had a fruitcake you liked…well, I’m about the same…I could never “get into” fruitcakes, even my Grandma’s…I always ate a piece or two…but just because she made it…but I have a solution for you…Judie found a recipe a few years ago…and I suppose if you Googled it, it would “come up”…(in fact I did Google it, my blog, “Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake” is just below the recipe, amazing)…it’s called “Don’t-Call-It-A-Fruitcake Spice Cake”…here’s the recipe…it is fantastic, I love it…in fact I will get up from sending you this and have a piece (or two, with butter) with coffee…it’s got dates, raisins, apricots, in it, no candied fruit, and because the fruit is cooked on the stove and then added to the batter, it turns the cake a dark hue…and when baked, it makes it even better…I think you will love it…Jim E…Here it is:

      Don’t-Call-it-a-Fruitcake Spice Cake

      Work: 15 min

      Total: 2 hr

      2 cups water

      2 cups sugar

      1 1/2 cups chopped dates

      1 cup chopped raisins

      1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

      5 tbsp shortening

      3 cups all-purpose flour

      2 tsp cinnamon

      1 tsp ground cloves

      1 tsp baking soda

      1 tsp salt

      1 cup chopped walnuts

      Directions

      Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
      In a 3-qt saucepan combine water, sugar, dates, raisins and apricots. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 min. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in shortening; let cool, about 30 min.
      In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt. Stir in cooled fruit mixture and walnuts.
      Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hr. When cake is cool, cut into slices or wrap in foil for up to 1 week. Makes 2 loaves.

  4. That looks delicious! I’ll definitely be making this. Thanks!!

    • Julie…and I am just now going out to fix that cup of coffee…will enjoy a piece of Don’t-Call-it-a-Fruitcake Spice Cake, just for you…Merry Christmas…Jim E


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