Christmas Traditions | The Fruitcake

{I had this entry locked and loaded, ready to post earlier this week, but…we all know what happened Wednesday. So without further ado, I give you…the Fruitcake 🙂}

Ah, the Christmas fruitcake. The proverbial butt of holiday jokes everywhere…would it surprise you to learn that making these dense delicacies has been a Hardinge family Christmas tradition for over two decades?

My mother has a recipe that had been “handed down through the generations” and each Christmas season it would require my siblings and I to waste dedicate an entire evening to grinding an assortment of almonds, walnuts, and candied fruits into a mash, which we then formed into cakes, baked, and distributed throughout the neighborhood.

Say what you want about them {and lord knows that I’ve said it all}, but now that I’ve lived in Iowa for going on six years now, I can honestly say that {gulp} I miss making fruitcakes! Yes, Hannah, Addie, Robert, and I always grumbled when the time came each year to make them while Mom wildly snapped pictures to our dismay. And yes, we usually complained the whole time when she had us walk up and down the street delivering them to our neighbors door steps…but gosh darn it, I would give almost anything to be participating in the fruitcake bake once again.

Seeing as how we won’t be in Hagerstown until December 23rd this year {long after the prime fruitcake making time has passed}, I needed to find other ways to get my fruitcake fix this year. So I turned to the resident Hardinge Family Historian {the always awesome Hannah G.} to dig up some gems from our fruitcake making past. Having digitized a good chunk of hard copy pictures from our childhood, Hannah did not disappoint.

First up is one of my mother’s favorites:

Here {I believe} I had just had a sample of the dasher, which had just mixed in a bit of wine into the batter {hence the innocent looking face}. This one was probably taken when I was only about four or five years old…I told you we’ve been doing these a long time!

Fast forward a couple years to the early nineties:

A few years later still, and we see the whole gang participating!

Boomsauce. {Hashtag}Awesome. Nice PJ’s Addie!

Here’s a couple taken my senior in high school (Christmas 2000), and by this point…well…we started having a little fun with the whole shindig:

This one below doesn’t have an accurate time stamp, but I can only assume it was taken sometime while Hannah and Addie were both in high school {not ’94}…

And even when I came home on break from college, Mom would still be there with the grinder and candied fruits waiting in hand (I think Missy actually took these)!

Over the years, new faces have found their way to the Hardinge-Family-Fruitcake-Making-Bash, but the results were still the same: good times, good laughs, and great memories (with delicious fruitcakes to boot):

In fact, this picture:

…just happens to be one of my favorite pictures of all time. I love how Mom’s dog Maisie even made an appearance. Classic!

And guess what? This year I still managed to find my way into the middle of all the fruitcake festivities:

That’s me and the gang just a few weeks ago, only I’m playing the role of video-chatter and virtual fruitcake mixer extraordinaire! Oh, and that’s Addie too, video chatting via iPhone. Oh the things we do to uphold the tradition…

Looking back on these this Christmas now that I’m a parent, I finally realize it was never about the fruitcakes. It wasn’t about making sure that friends and family got their yearly fill of fruity and nutty goodness. It was about this night. It was about keeping this holiday tradition alive so that years later we could look back through pictures and overflowing memories with fondness and appreciation for what we had.

It’s something that I hope that Missy and I can soon start with our own family. Not necessarily the fruitcakes ;-), but a new Christmas tradition of our own.


5 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions | The Fruitcake

  1. Traditions at Christmas are important….one of ours is borrowed from Aunt Peg….we will be having our “Aunt Peg’s” breakfast casserole that she introduced me to on one family “Cleveland” side Christmas gathering. My boys love this recipe and it is finished baking just about half way through the “OPENING” and everyone is ready for a little break. Love, Becky & Mike

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