NOW, I LOVE CHRISTMAS as much as the next person. But does “Merry Christmas” start sounding like an oxymoron as the season progresses? A juxtaposition of incongruities?
This year I got a head start. We went on vacation in November to a place where Bubbles and Louie would have to spend more time in quarantine than the vacation was long, so I had to renovate the house for the dog sitter. I recarpeted, painted, and deep cleaned, and now our guests will think we live like this all the time.
The next greatest holiday stressor is gifts. Here are several solutions to minimize the wear and tear on your psyche, time, and pocketbook:
You can draw names. Now, I know you’re remembering that time when Suzy drew little Johnny’s name and gave him a copy of Lord of the Flies because he was into entomology, but it did teach him survival techniques. If you’re afraid of being
found out thought too generous, make them “secret Santa” gifts.
You can regift. When you’re a hoarder like a very past relative of mine, you’ll have “go to” items in reserve, such as chocolate liqueur bottles from the Christmas before or a jiggly Hula dancer dashboard ornament which came with an added good wish in the box: Merry Christmas From The Gardener.
You can make a donation. This one’s a real hit. But be sure to enclose a receipt for the donation because you don’t want to be accused of being your own favorite charity.
You can “say it with flowers.” This one is not easy on the pocketbook. And sometimes there just isn’t a flower to adequately express how you feel about someone. But here’s something that just might: fruitcake!
Fruitcake is a thoughtful gift. It comes with an implicit guarantee that you will always have something to serve your guests. With its red and green candied cherries bouncing merrily along on party plates, it carries the Christmas theme all the way to the backyard where once, alarmed by the dog’s frantic barking, I found remnants of it, pitched by a disingenuous gastronome.
Either you love fruitcake or you hate it. Those who say, “It’s OK”—they hate it; they just don’t have the backbone to admit that this holiday custom which dates back to ancient Egypt—where it was buried with the mummies to ensure they had food to last through eternity—makes them retch.
Civilizations have crumbled…but not the fruitcake tradition. Like Lutefisk to the Norwegians, some things just won’t go away…
Aunt Flora in New York: “Hello, dear, I’m ordering your Christmas gift and I need to know, do you want fruitcake or cheese? Last year your brother was rude about the cheese, so I put him down for fruitcake.”
A debate discussion ensues about California winters, hot enough to melt cheese, and isn’t fruitcake combustible?
Aunt Flora: “Not to worry—I send everything Signature Required. You’ll be there to get it. Now, I spent three days making this list, and I need to know, do you want fruitcake or cheese?”
Me: “You choose, but have the post office put a fruitcake label on it—no one will touch it.”
To which she replies that there is no such thing as a fruitcake label, to which I reply that it’s what the post office uses instead of a signature card during the holidays.
Fruitcake has no expiration date. But Aunt Flora does.