The Christmas Fruitcake made its appearance at my childhood home every year. It was my Dad’s tradition, and he kept it going well into his senior years. Now that I think back, I can’t remember when the production stopped. All I remember is that it traveled from uptown New Orleans to downtown Desire. I do know one thing for sure, and I hated them. I can remember making Schwegmann’s runs with him to get his ingredients. It was all done from scratch, from flour and brown sugar to plastic containers that held the jellied and dried fruit and unshelled nuts. While I watched the steps he took (note nothing was written down), it encompassed hours. It was just a given that on this day, if you wanted to eat at the only table in the house, you should make plans before production started. The ingredients covered the whole table. There was a metal grinder (I wish I had held on to that) that he hooked to the edge of the table and would meticulously combine his ingredients. It all ended up in the roasting pan and mixed together, poured into disposable metal loaf pans, and baked. The aroma stayed around longer than the fruitcakes. They were handed out to welcome hands. It’s amazing how relatives from both sides of the family would show up, all leaving out with a loaf. I remember a few being shipped to California one year to one of his uptown New Orleans friends who had relocated. No dollars ever changed hands: just fruitcakes and warm holiday best wishes.
We take so much for granted in life, assuming it will be present forever. At this moment, on this day, during this Christmas season, I would give anything for a slice of fruitcake. Not just any fruitcake. It has to be Smitty’s.