Who’ll eat the fruitcake?

By Walt Braun

If you’re truly fortunate, you got everything you wanted for Christmas. What’s more, every gift you gave was well received and you can’t think of a single thing to complain about. You have today off and even the fruitcake was delicious.

We don’t know how many people that describes, but we doubt all that many people regard fruitcake as tasty. Nor are we sure how many stores, even those that sell fruitcakes and are determined to be tolerant on this busy day of returns, want to be stuck with a post-Christmas fruitcake.

Someone returning a fruitcake could simply say he doesn’t like it; not only is this approach to be commended for its honesty, but such reasoning works for weird neckties and sweaters. In the alternative, the returner could say he’s allergic to one or more of the ingredients. That might elicit sympathy — or skepticism — from the clerk.

Or the returner could say he happened to receive two identical fruitcakes and would like to exchange one for, well, whatever the store thinks is fair. Of course, if he says that, the service desk clerk might just reaches into the shelf of discarded fruitcakes for one that’s slightly different. It seems fruitcakes have earned their reputation as one of the gifts that keep on being regifted or returned.

Actually, fruitcake aficionados aren’t necessarily fruitcakes. Far from it. Yes, some of them have a hankering for liverwurst and buttermilk, but profiling along those lines can be perilous. Folks who favor fruitcake might consider it the delicacy of choice after a dinner featuring filet mignon and fine wine. Maybe the reason fruitcake isn’t returned more often is that there seems to be one person ( in rare cases more than one person) who is absolutely thrilled not to have to share it.

We hope fruitcake turned up only where it was appreciated this season, and that this Christmas was defined not by the number of gifts returned or even the number of gifts under the tree but by togetherness and good cheer.

And we hope people cling to the spirit associated with this season long after the batteries in the new gadgets wear out.

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