I don’t know who drew this. I couldn’t find a source. If you know it, let me know so I can show out the brilliant person who created this monstrosity.
My family and the family of my best friend are both Italian, and we hold fast to our traditions. Some traditions are universal, such as breaking into the kids’ trick-or-treat bags after they’ve gone to bed or using Grandma’s special candlesticks for the holiday. We have a tradition of eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken the night before the first day of school. We celebrate the Bunny’s special day by seeing the latest Pixar movie in theaters. However, in my family, the Christmas fruitcake stands out as the undisputed champion.
The young Italian woman was on her way to America at the turn of the century. There were rumors of golden streets and eligible young guys. She walked in to find my Irish grandfather amidst the laundry and a mountain of dirty clothes. My grandmother Elizabeth went to a bank in December 1918 to open an account with $2.87. My grandma received a tin fruitcake as part of a bank’s new account offer.
I enjoy receiving presents. In exchange for signing up for credit cards, I received free pizza, t-shirts, hats, frisbees, coffee mugs, pencils, towels, and bobble head toys of various sports figures. You can’t help but inherit it. “If it’s free, it’s for me” is a saying that runs in our family. To be honest, I don’t even understand why they handed out fruitcakes.
My grandmother brought home the canned, baked monster so she wouldn’t look ungrateful. It was not a simple task. A tin 8×13 inches in size could hold as much as Santa, his sleigh full of goodies, and his reindeer. Grandma put the cake onto the table using the pulley attached to the dining room light, and then she attempted to identify it. As she worked, the table groaned and cracked under the strain.
She pried the lid off the tin and examined its contents with a magnifying glass. Neither the preparation nor the ingredients resembled anything remotely palatable. When she prodded it once more, it ate the pen and suddenly became much heavier. She snapped the lid shut and realized the fruitcake was too perilous to throw away. No one can predict the terrors it would bring to the city.
My grandpa helped my grandma move it off the table and onto the floor when he got home from work. They got it to the bedroom door, where it remained as a doorstop for the next sixteen years, occasionally breaking toes in the middle of the night.
My great-grandparents raised three children throughout the years: my dad’s mom’s mom, Florence, and her siblings Joseph and Diane. While they were children, they spent a lot of time in the apartment guessing what the tin was in front of their parents’ bedroom. They would take dares to unlock it on hot summer days. The cake was protected from inquisitive glances by the tin’s threatening rumbling. Nothing you did could get the box to budge. Joey tore his groin muscle and will never play sports professionally again. Instead, he entered the field of insurance sales,
The children matured and eventually formed their own households. The fruitcake, however, was still there. It wasn’t until one Christmas meal when my dad, aunts, and uncles (all Florence’s kids) had an idea. Everyone would put their names in a hat once a year. Someone would be selected at random to keep the fruitcake for an entire year. This was a favorite idea of my great-grandfather, Joseph. It’s possible that he won’t have to splint his toes for the next two weeks if he needs to get up to use the restroom in the small hours of the morning.
A whole year was needed to make sure all the security measures were in place. Sadly, that family member was responsible for figuring out how to get it back to the rest of the household. The next step was to make sure the fruitcake couldn’t run away. Others invested in fire-proof safes. Some people went out and purchased huge chains and formidable locks. My dad worked for the Defense Department, so the family had access to technologies like cryogenic theft detractors and retinal scanning. He took every precaution, even installing motion detector alarms with a two-minute deactivation window before they set the air on fire and exploded.
They were rapidly approaching the deciding point. There was a huge get-together at Florence’s. In order to keep the fruitcake safe, security personnel stationed themselves outside. While the family waited for the proper moment, Al the Spy, Jeff the Threat, and Senesio the Rat stood guard.
My grandpa Peter has a tradition of attending midnight church on Christmas Eve. He’s at an age where he could wear the priests’ vestments and say mass in Latin without resorting to three by five cards.
The four of us waited and waited at my grandma’s. Experiencing it was the worst pain imaginable. As a matter of fact, it’s not simply because of the terrifying fruitcake that’s waiting to be adopted. No. We abstain from food in order to be as spotless as the day the infant Jesus was born. Even on Christmas night. There wasn’t a single clam, Hershey kiss, or candy cane.
I did, in fact, say clam. This is because the Feast of the Seven Fishes is celebrated on Christmas Day, and we can’t start eating until my grandfather gets home from church at one in the morning. Fried, seared, baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, smothered, and covered in sauce: clams, mussels, octopus, squid, shrimp, eel, and anchovies.
My grandfather came home from church and immediately put everyone’s names in a Flyers cap. In an attempt to forge my father’s signature, my uncle Keith was busted. So, as a form of punishment, my grandmother entered his name twice. As the first victim was selected, everyone in the family held their breath. At the tender age of 5, I enjoyed the highest level of respect. When I reached into the hat, I pulled out a name that got a good chuckle out of everyone. Florence, my paternal grandmother.
The fruitcake was forgotten, so my aunts called at the guards through the kitchen window to bring it in. My grandma specified a location, and they utilized an engine hoist to bring the monstrosity there. A storage area could be found down in the basement. There was a gun safe in the closet that could survive winds of an F4 tornado, earthquake ground motions of 6.5 on the Richter scale, and flood levels of five feet. The salesperson said it was too heavy for aliens to pick up with a tractor beam, but not even my grandma could believe that. For all he knew, she might have been discussing aliens and she could have been discussing fruitcakes. Totally unbelievable.
Thirty years have passed since that first sketch. They supposedly haven’t done that for years, according to my mother. Nobody knows where the fruitcake went. My family and I am convinced that my Uncle Keith brought it to California and threw it into the water. If this is the case, we can finally understand why Japan’s nuclear power facility was devastated by a tsunami following an earthquake. Are you beginning to grasp how evil this is?
Except for the kids, no one in the family eats at all on Christmas because it would be cruel and unusual punishment. Both my cousin and I think they’re weak. Ultimately, we were successful. To put it simply, we made it. That’s why our current stockpiles have always trumped theirs.
Everyone still waits for Grandpa to return from midnight mass before starting dinner and opening presents. Next to the spice drops, walnuts, and pizzelles produced in Great Grandma’s cast-iron, imported-from-Italy pizzelle maker using her recipe with just a touch too much Anisette, you’ll find the remains of the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Even though it has been almost twenty years since they died away, I will always cherish the memories and customs that my great-grandparents left behind. Also, I owe a debt of gratitude to that bank for providing this befuddled Italian lady with an heirloom tale.
In addition, I am grateful to you, Demonic Fruitcake, wherever you may be. For the reason that nobody in Jomo believes this story. Because of this, no one will ever know that my relatives and I did all we could to stop you and your wave of doom from destroying Earth. If you’re sleeping anywhere, Fruitcake, I hope you have a peaceful night and a wonderful day in the morning. And I appreciate you for establishing this custom for my loved ones and me. I appreciate you and your custom very much.
LOL…I love it.
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