My, It’s Fruitcake Weather


Post by community member:


Recognize Cousin Sook’s words? Then it’s likely you are familiar with author Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. You probably can recall some of the odd traditions described in the story: Cousin Sook’s refusal to rise from bed on the 13th of any month, Sook’s and Buddy’s holiday gift exchange of homemade kites, and of course, the annual baking of the fruitcakes.

However, if this memory has escaped you, please allow me to make an introduction. It is Capote’s autobiographical story of a young boy, sent to live with distant relatives, and his friend—his elderly cousin Sook Falk. The fruitcakes help the developmentally challenged woman and her misfit young cousin reach out from their poverty in the rural South to more than two dozen people from Mr. Haha Jones— their moon-shining neighbor—to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Together, Buddy and Sook gather pecans left behind from the harvest, buy illegally made whiskey for soaking the cakes, get slightly tipsy on the whiskey leftovers, cut their own tree, and decorate it with homemade ornaments. The two disparate friends form a binary system, the outside world barely intrudes on their lives. The story will wrap around you like a well-worn quilt.

There are many ways to enjoy this holiday jewel. You might check with your local NPR station to find out when they will air A Christmas Memory read by the author himself. The reading has a palpable poignancy. Barring that, you might listen to a significantly abridged version of the reading here. A Christmas Memory begins about minute 21:20.

Or, you might choose to watch the 1966 television production, starring Geraldine Page and narrated by Capote. It is in six installments on You Tube. Of course, you could begin your own family tradition by reading the story aloud. You’ll find the full text here.

Why not serve your own fruitcake along with this memory? You might try 1974 Fruitcake (Revised) or Pauline’s White Fruitcake. If an entire fruitcake is beyond your reach this year, why not try Holiday Fruit Gems, a tasty bite of fruitcake in a cookie.

How to make Holiday Fruit Gems:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cloves
1/2 cup orange liqueur, bourbon, or orange juice
1 1/2 pounds mixed medium chopped dried fruit*
1 pound pecan or walnut pieces
1 pound dried cherries or cranberries, halved or quartered

* Use a combination of two or three fruits you enjoy, such as apricots, prunes, light raisins, dates, mango, papaya, pineapple, cherries, or cranberries.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy; add eggs. Sift flour with soda and spices. Add to creamed mixture alternately with liqueur. Mix batter with mixed fruits and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased, or parchment lines, cookie sheets. Back at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes or until browned. Cool on racks. Store in airtight containers. If desired, baste occasionally with liqueur, bourbon, or orange juice. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen.

Get the handy print page and save this to your recipe box here:
Holiday Fruit Gems.

Whichever way you come to this beautiful story, take a moment to savor it. Accept A Christmas Memory as a gift to be read, year after year, warming heart and soul on a dreary winter day. You’ll find it goes well with a cup of tea and a bit of fruitcake.

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  1. bonita says:

    [photo credit, as on photo, should read]

  2. Darlene in North GA says:

    YES! Finally a recipe without that NASTY “candied” fruit! Little bits of tie-dyed whatevers. Glick! makes me want to go brush my tongue just thinking about it!

    I do not like it, Sam-I-am, I do not like candied fruit in pan. (my apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

    Thank you for the recipe.

  3. judydee says:

    Thanks for the lovely post. I had forgotten about “A Christmas Memory”. I will get and re-read soon. Also, thanks for reminding me it’s time to get started on the fruitcakes! Hope I will even get to try the cookie recipe–my husband’s family LOVES fruitcake.

  4. Helen says:

    I’m with you, Darlene…that red and green fruit and yucky candied pineapple and stuff always scared me 😛 Years ago I had a fruitcake recipe that used proper dried fruit (raisins, figs, dates, apricots, etc.) but I lost it.

  5. Pete says:

    And this may just be the year for us to pick up the old tradition of making fruitcakes on Thanksgiving weekend!

    My family was definitely in the “We LOVE fruitcake!” camp, and over the years I’ve tried at least a bazillion variations on the theme.

    Anyone remember back in the 60’s when the “Date Bars” box had a fruitcake recipe on it, using the box mix, of course? That was my first attempt, and it was delicious, believe it or not! The oats and dates added a wonderful depth of flavor.

    Ah…fruitcake memories! They can be very powerful! Thanks for reminding, bonita!!

  6. Toto's Mom says:

    I too LOVE fruitcake! My favorite kind is my TX aunt’s recipe – it’s unbaked. Made with graham crackers, marshmallow fluff, fruit & pecans. Mahvelous!

  7. Jane says:

    I don’t know why all the fruitcake sold here is the one with the garish candied fruit. No wonder people don’t like it! A good fruitcake is a wonderful thing. Moist, perfumed, spicy.. lovely stuff. Anyway, I may have to try this recipe, as I just made this a week ago (I thought it was longer, but the comment time/date stamp never lies)and as much as I hate to admit my pure gluttony, it is already gone:(

  8. Helen says:

    I do believe that the kind with the scarey candied fruit is meant to be used DECORATIVELY, as a door stop, like a brick, isn’t it 😉

  9. CraftyK says:

    I live less than an hour from Claxton, GA, the “Fruitcake Capital of the World!” All of those fruitcakes have that weird candied fruit in them…I never thought of fruitcake without it! Those cookies sound delicious, and you made me really want to read that story! I’ll have to track it down.

  10. Becky W says:

    Oh…I just read “A Christmas Memory” for the first time…I LOVE IT! So much so I want to give it to my family to read. In light of the recent theft of Suzanne’s picture over the internet…is there some way I can get just this story…I don’t really want to purchase a short story collection…

  11. bonita says:

    Becky W, you can download/print the text of “A Christmas Story” from, As long as you use the copy for educational purposes, that is, you do not print and sell the story or otherwise profit from the download, The site maintains a number of hard-to-find short stories by well-known authors.

  12. Darlene in North GA says:

    @ Helen:

    YEP! That’s EXACTLY what they’re for! lol

    That or to pass down, like an heirloom from generation to generation, never being opened, never to be eaten.

    Or to be regifted to someone you REALLY don’t like. Only…there’s no one I don’t like enough to do that with. lol

    Sorry to those who actually like the Technicolor candies. I’m probably having too much fun with this. Guess I need to get a life.

  13. Becky W says:

    Thanks Bonita! Do you think it would be ok then to print a copy to give each of my daughters?

    I actually found ONE copy of the 3 story collection at half price books, but I wanted them all to have it, and like I said…I didn’t want the entire collection though I’m sure it’s good.

  14. bonita says:

    Sure, Becky, that’s the goal of websites such as that one…to introduce (educate) people to a variety of writers. I’m sure your daughters will enjoy the story as much as you did. I still tear up every time I hear it.

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