I make fruitcake. I make a lot of fruitcake. For the holidays. And I give it with abandon to friends and family and even, on occasion, to strangers.
A few years ago a fellow participant from an online forum, an older gentleman, found himself alone and broke back home in Flint, Michigan, for the holidays. He spent as much of his time as he could in Paris, devouring as many of its small wonders as he could on his retiree's budget. He was the definition of a flâneur. (His Notes from a Parisite are a must read for anyone that knows and loves Paris, or simply wants to, or really, for anyone in need of a few hours' diversion.) Christmas in Flint threatened to put him under, and when he expressed a fondness for fruitcake in one of his posts, I asked for his address and sent him one. I know from the emails we exchanged that the ray of kindness from a virtual stranger brightened his season a bit. He has since died, Maurice – in Paris, mercifully, not in Flint.
My favorite Christmas story is that of Favor Johnson, who bakes and gives fruitcake to every family in his small Vermont village each Christmas. Some day that will be me, making the rounds on Christmas Eve. Hell, I'm halfway there.
I'm preparing for 4 batches this year, a dozen cakes each. I ordered the fruit and nuts online last weekend – over 50 pounds' worth. I can't recommend Nuts.com highly enough for such things. Best prices out there, highest quality and freshness, excellent customer service, and cheap/fast shipping. I've ordered from a number of other sources over the years (Nuts on the Net / Zenobia, Market Hall Foods, Olive Nation, Bulk Foods); Nuts.com wins, no contest.
Last evening, I chopped and diced all of the dates, figs, apricots, and candied citrus peel and mixed them with the sultanas, currants, dried cherries and pineapple, crystallized ginger, and a potent blend of booze. Four giant plastic jugs each hold the mix for one batch. I'll let it all marinate until Sunday, then start the baking. It's an undertaking, to be sure. You can read about it here (recipe included).
If anyone's interested, I have a small number of them available for purchase ($35/ea + shipping, and worth every last penny). Email me for more information or to place an order. It's old-school commerce: you mail me a check, I send you a fruitcake.