I finally managed to put the fruit together for Christmas cakes. I need to make multiple cakes. There is a large one for my sister and her family. (Supposedly this is for the visitors who drop in about this time of the year. I suspect they actually eat most of it themselves.) There is a middle size one for us. That does get used for visitors. There are small cakes, mostly for various oldies who no longer make their own or no longer have partners to make them.
The recipe I use these days belongs to a friend. It was her grandmother's recipe. It is relatively simple. The fruit is sitting there with the contents of a bottle of cheap sherry over the top. It gets stirred several times a day. Things get added. The mixture goes into a variety of tins. It gets cooked. Cake, hopefully, comes out at the other end.
I will dutifully add a few mince pies (for my father) and shortbread. I am not cooking turkey or Christmas pudding. I do not care for either and neither does my father. Pudding belongs to winter, if we eat it at all. Both of us prefer fresh fruit.
"There will just be the three of us," an elderly friend told me. She has an invalid husband and still cares for a psychotic and sometimes violent son. I give her a small cake with the excuse that it is what will not fit into the tin I make ours in. It is a convention that allows her to accept it. She does not have the time or energy to make cakes of any sort.
A father and his young daughter will take one small cake with them when they head off for a week at the beach. They go over Christmas and New Year. It is important for them to get away because Christmas in the city has too many reminders of things past and what might have been. There will just be the two of them. I will get my young friend to help with the last stages of the cake making. She can ice their cake herself.
This sort of thing makes me feel a bit better about Christmas. I do not like the excess which surrounds Christmas. I like to stir in a little TLC but I do not want to smother.
It was very warm first thing this morning. When I collected the papers from the front I could smell Christmas. It was sweet and delicate. It was the 'barely there and not quite ready yet' scent of the peach tree. It was the way Christmas should be.
I went inside and stirred once, stirred twice and then stirred again.