So, I live in an apartment, sort of the funky variety. It's over 40-years-old and not everything is as up-to-date as it might be. The burners on the stove have a peculiar heat sensitivity—some times it's hot enough to melt the metal from the bottom of the pan; other times the water does not come to a boil. The fridge leaks. There might be a mouse.
At any rate, it's home enough to Obi and I. Obi is a ragdoll, which is a kind of Siamese. They are immense cats with blue eyes, and the coat and coloring of exotic cats. He didn't do so well with his previous owners. I expect they didn't pay him all the attention they could have paid. It's taken him two years to understand hugs. But he gets them now.
I have plenty of love: church family, writing colleagues, friends that go back twenty years. Twenty? Try thirty or more. Two of my besties go back to college and post-college years. Some of my friends are young, with little kids and I dote. My family is stellar and in town. I'm not a lonely woman.
But some of the people who live here are: a woman who is single-handedly caring for her 90+ mother. She just bought a puppy, a big one. There's a guy here in his late 60s, maybe 70s, and his family is scattered. He's still an athlete. There's a young man from far-far away, missing his parents. He's a hydrologist, studying water issues in our high-mountain dessert. At any rate, there's nobody to celebrate Christmas with, for any of them.
But I'm guessing that a little Christmas kindness would not be out of line. I'm thinking of my buddy Greg's Christmas fruitcake. I know, I know, I just wrote about a fruitcake, but I'm thinking nobody is gonna set fire to Greg's fruitcake. It's just too delicious.
Here goes, plus a few changes to accommodate my peculiar taste.
1 pound of sugar (21/4 cups sugar)
1 pound of butter (use the real stuff)
Melt these at very low heat, at least an hour.
Mix together. 4 cups of flour, 3 pounds of dried fruit (see my little note. The recipe calls for candied fruit, but nobody in my family will eat it. So dried.) 11/2 pounds of nuts (see my little note).
Let butter and sugar mixture cool, add to flour, fruit, and nuts. Mix it together. Add 6 beaten eggs, one at a time, and 2 tablespoons of lemon extract and 2 tablespoons of vanilla. Mix it well.
Line 5 small bread pans with parchment paper, leaving a little overlap, so the cooled fruitcakes can be simply lifted out. Bake at 250 degrees to 275 degrees for 2.5 hours. If the fruitcakes get too brown, cover with foil. After you remove the fruitcakes from the oven, leave them in the pans 1 hour before removing. Makes 5 small loaves. Perfect for sharing.
Note: I like different kinds of fruit. So here are four different kinds of fruits you can add. Of course, you can make up your own.
1st: Dried blueberries, cherries, and apricots for the fruits; chopped hazelnuts for the nuts, sort of an Oregon fruitcake.
2nd: Dates, raisins, figs, currents, golden raisins; almonds for nuts. A three-wise men kind of fruitcake.
3rd: Fresh apples (Honey Crisp or Jonathans), peeled, cored, chopped up, dried cranberries, dried pears; walnuts for the nuts. Maybe one with an Idaho attitude.
4th: Dried papaya, mangos, coconuts (flaked and toasted), chopped and roasted Brazil nuts. The exotic.
Anyway you go, it's a sweet way to remember people who are not as comforted or as encouraged as you are.