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It was a pleasant Christmas. Family, in a small dose, gathered at my sister’s. J, #2 son. sister, brother-in-law, my stepmum (age 94) were there, along with me. Brother-in-law fixed a bread pudding from a panettone, mushroom tarts, other yummies. Gifts were exchanged. Sister gave me an antique fruit cake tin, (ca. 1958).

Fruit cake is kind of a snarky joke in The States. It was quite in vogue about 60-70 years ago, but has fallen out of favour. Every few years or so, a “gourmet” or other foodie type decides to “re-invent” it. The way it was made back in the day was just fine. My sister told me the mother of one of her music students (she teaches piano and strings) once offered her homemade “Christmas Cake”. They were a Welsh family and a Welsh Christmas Cake is very much the equivalent of what we Americans call fruit cake.

The mother of the family said she would understand if my sis refused, given Americans’ disdain for fruit cake, fostered by advertising. (A more unimaginative lot than advertising copywriters cannot be found, imho.) My sister accepted tbe proffered confection and found it quite delectable.

The fruit cake tradition left our family with quite an inventory of empty fruit cake tins. They usually had a Christmas or winter theme. We used them to store little items, easily lost, like crayons.

My Dad used a fruit cake tin to store 8mm ammunition from the Japanese Nambu pistol, he acquired during The War. The ammunition stayed in the tin, unused, till the day he died in 2011, 66 years after its acquisition. My nephew, a law enforcement officer, then took the now dangerously detetiorated ammo away for safe disposal,

Mum would put sewing notions in them, thread, needles, bobbins. She called them a “catch-all box”. (I still hear her saying it).

Sewing notions. These items I associate with the past seem so distant, but they aren’t really. There was a time when many women sewed, just as they did home canning. I suspect many women still do and are quite proud of these skills of self-reliance. It is just an image that isn’t so popular in the culture promoted by mass media.

As I write this, my Australian, English, Irish, Canadian followers are now or soon will be celebrating Boxing Day, with Pantomime (UK), or a hockey game (Canada), or cricket (AUS vs NZ test) We go buy more stuff in America or return gifts that don’t fit, don’t need or don’t want.

#1 son and his wife picked up Lila. She is such a sweet dog. But I was relieved when she left, much the same way grandparents are when their grandchildren leave, I suspect.

The love remains. The lights twinkle. I think we should have a midyear Christmas Dress Rehearsal to 1) remind us it is coming and 2) consider new food, decorations, potential traditions. Besides being reminded the weather will cool off when we’re sweating like hogs is always a nice thought.

Vintage 50’s Tin