Dorothy read the recipe, although she had it almost memorized. She absolutely hated fruitcake. Well that wasn't exactly true. She hated this recipe.
The first Christmas they were married, Ralph had handed her the recipe saying, "This was my grandmother's fruitcake recipe. She made it for me every Christmas when I was growing up. It is one of the things I miss about her. Would you make it for me this year?" How could she refuse? His grandmother had raised him after his parents were killed in an automobile accident. They had been very close and her death had left him unsettled. Dorothy appreciated his feelings for his grandmother so she baked the fruitcake
Ready made candied fruit hadn't been available at that time and so she spent days candying fruit as the recipe instructed. By the time she had all the ingredients for the cake, she was sick of the smell of candied fruit. The addition of the bourbon made her nauseous. After mixing the ingredients together, it took over an hour for the cake to bake. She could smell the sugar crystallizing and the fruit as it fermented in the bourbon. Maybe it tastes better than it smells. She thought.
All Dorothy's negative thoughts were washed away by the look on Ralph's face when he saw the cake. She sliced a piece for each of them, placed the slices on beautiful plates, and sat down to enjoy her masterpiece. Ralph took a bite and sat back in his chair with a look of sheer bliss on his face. Dorothy's heart swelled with pride as she watched her husband enjoy one bite of cake.
Dorothy prepared to take a bite hoping for a delectable treat. The cake tasted exactly like it smelled. The fermented candied fruit stung her tongue and the bourbon burned her throat.
"What's the matter?" Ralph asked.
"I don't like it. Maybe I did something wrong. Did your grandmother's taste like this?"
"Yes, it did. I think it tastes great."
The following Christmas Ralph again asked for his grandmother's fruitcake. Every Christmas after that, he just seemed to expect it. Baking that cake became Dorothy's least favorite part of the holidays.
That was forty-five years ago. Dorothy thought with tears flowing as she mixed the cake. Why am I making it this year?
Ralph had gone home to be with the Lord since last Christmas and Dorothy would have made that stinky cake twelve times to have him back. Although Ralph wouldn't be here this year, Dorothy felt like it wouldn't be Christmas without that cake. Part of her wasn't ready to admit he was never coming home again. She knew she would see him again when she died, but not on this earth.
At least for this Christmas, his fruitcake would be with the family.