I don’t know which came first, Mom’s fruitcake or her sugar cookies. What girl notices grownup food when she’s anticipating the rolling pin, mixing bowl full of dough, and cookie cutters come December?

Wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in Dad’s brandy, Mom’s fruitcake appealed to a mature audience. Whereas, my sisters and I gobbled up our yummy decorated sugar cookies long before our mother ceremoniously sliced the last few servings of her favorite Christmas sweet.

There she’d sit at the kitchen table with a cup of hot tea in absolute awareness of the goodness her hands and the recipe yielded. With her right pinky extended, she nibbled on the finished product of creamed butter and sugar, eggs, brandy, sifted flour and spices, candied fruit, and pecans. Her brother Jim, a Marine stationed in North Carolina, shipped her Georgia pecans every summer for her holiday baking.

It took marriage and children for me to comprehend such roots deep within Mom’s fealty to her mother’s fruitcake–to recall and respect her blessed moment of rest and reflection.

After forsaking Mom’s recipe recent Christmases, I resurrected the index card two days ago to perpetuate this tradition with my daughters–cast my matriarchs’ fruitcake upon the waters. Perhaps I’ll live long enough to witness the strong pull of this confection upon their convictions.

Papa Joe’s in Rochester saved my plan with the Paradise brand of candied fruit. Sad to say, fruitcake is falling from fashion.

While my Kitchen Aid blended the batter, I stood before the kitchen window in a fine condition of contentment. White flowers of a Hellebore caught my eye. As she’s refused to bloom for three winters, Hellebore’s timing is perfect.

Matter of fact, during my bedtime reading, I recently learned Christmas Rose is the common name for Hellebore. She’s shy, a low grower prone to hibernation under snow. And that makes her all the more adorable.

This revelation came by an essay in a small but mighty book titled My Favorite Plant. Jamaica Kincaid, a gardener and garden writer born in 1949, edited the book.

Christmas Rose is the flower Richardson Wright, my Number One garden storyteller, grew under glass close to his Connecticut cottage for harvesting a handful of blooms in December.

Since they’ve no fragrance and flowers are few, I’ve not had the heart to clip a rose for my bondage indoors.

Rather, on those slow, snowy days, I’ll sit with a hot cup of tea at my kitchen table. I’ll gaze upon my Christmas Rose, extend my pinky, and salute my new Advent guest.

Dear Reader, my three loaves of fruitcake marinate in brandied cheesecloth. One waits in my kitchen cupboard. Our youngest daughter drives the other two cross-country with her dog Lily to celebrate Christmas with her sister’s family in the Bay Area.

Although tempted by Ruth’s invitation, my husband and I decided two cross-county treks are not practical for the time being. We’ll observe our Savior’s birth with our hens, cats and Hellebore.

And Mom’s fruitcake.

Contact Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.