Our first Christmas after we were married I was introduced to a Christmas fruitcake by my Irish-born wife.
Thus began a 38-year tradition which even now strains our wedded bliss.
Friends who have partaken of her fruitcakes, or received them as a gift, no longer visit and invites to gather are fewer and fewer – this despite my entreaties to these friends that the gift…barely edible…could also serve as a doorstop, a bookend, or a paperweight.
I claim it is the fruitcake which has caused this disharmony but, alas, like the postman, there is nothing that will deter my Kildare Queen from her appointed duty to make them.
I am convinced that in ancient times the fruitcake was used to “prep” victims for Druidic human sacrifices, or were linked somehow to exorcism rites.
The bride claims otherwise. She insists that the tradition dates from biblical times. This, it appears, is true. The Hebrew scriptures in earlier bibles included references in Exodus to a plague which would put a fruitcake in the home of every one of Pharaoh’s soldiers.
Locusts and first born males were one thing, but rather than lose his army, Pharaoh freed the Jewish people from their bondage.
Elsewhere, I learned that a chapter from Luke in the Christian scriptures that was found on the cutting room floor was an apocryphal reference to a treacherous fourth king who was bearing the gift of a fruitcake to the infant Jesus.
Angels were dispatched to abduct this evil king who was then spirited away to a distant land now called England.
The fruitcake? It was buried in a place now known as the Sahara Desert.
As for Lot? His misfortune was far worse than now portrayed in scripture. Yes, he was not turned only into a pillar of salt…a necessity and life sustaining… but a fruitcake.
The most intriguing of these biblical references is actually a misinterpretation of the words ascribed by the apostle Matthew as spoken to Jesus.
When Christ said “I will be with you until the end of time,” he was actually referring to the effects of a fruitcake placed by the Devil on the table at the Last Supper and shared by all.
The venomous vapors now emanating from our kitchen are the first warning that the fruitcake is now ready for consumption.
A sense of panic now grips our children. They scatter to closets, the comforting shelter of frigid weather, and to the child abuse hotline.
I, on the other hand, have a husbandly duty to perform. Not even my pained expression deters my wife from extending me the privilege of having the first slice.
I have developed a certain immunity, perhaps due to antibodies, to the most egregious effects of this confectionary concoction, but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the birds and squirrels with whom I gladly share pieces.
All you young men who think of taking an Irishwoman for a wife heed this warning!
In modern times wonders have been achieved in medicine, psychiatry, and modern warfare so that in time a cure for the fruitcake-making syndrome may be found.
Until then, you owe it to yourself and to future generations to record the Mrs. with the web-based registry of fruitcake makers so that proper precautions can be taken and antidotes prepared.
As for me, as I lift a piece to my trembling lips, I recall the words from an Irish song: “What cannot be cured love, must be endured love..” And I pray. A blessed Christmas to all.