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FIRST-PERSON: Whatever you do, don’t eat it

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–It happens every year in the month of December; a tin arrives on my doorstep or in the mailbox with Christmas greetings attached from a long-lost relative or high school chum.

I’m usually surprised to find the tins there and pleased that someone would think enough of me to send a gift. It doesn’t take long, however, for the fear to sink in. Is it another one? Is it even really cake? Is there anyone that actually likes this stuff?

Remember to lift with the legs. With the consistency of, oh, let’s say a brick, and an atomic weight greater than plutonium, fruitcake never — under any circumstances — makes a good gift. The Grinch won’t even eat it.

When I was a child, my parents often threatened that if I didn’t behave throughout the year Santa Claus would only bring me a “bag of switches,” to quote them directly.

Nonsense. Every kid knows that he brings fruitcake to the children who don’t measure up. I imagine he has a whole division of elves devoted to the task of turning the dough, mixing in the gelatinous pseudo-fruit and then baking the bread in the fires of Hades.

We all will receive at least one fruitcake in our lives. It is a rite of passage. Someone will send the gift that rains on your holiday parade. The difficult part of receiving the fruitcake is figuring out what to do with it. You shouldn’t really eat it, unless you have the stomach of a goat.

In an effort to resolve this holiday dilemma, I gathered a committee of five likeminded fruitcake opponents to develop a list of uses for this thing that apparently has no real use. A sixth proved himself irrelevant to the discussion when he chimed in, “I like fruitcake.” You are what you eat.

Without further delay, I present to you the top 10 uses for fruitcake:

10. Smuggling device: Yes, fruitcakes are so dense that they cannot be properly identified with an airport X-ray device. That is why the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority banned the holiday “treat” this year. So, if you plan on smuggling anything, stick it in a fruitcake.

9. Democratic presidential candidate: Let’s face it, the fruitcake might stand a better chance than any of the nine contenders from the party.

8. Doorstop: Okay, the use of a fruitcake as a doorstop is passe, but I would be remiss if I left it out. Please be careful however. If it will hold a door open, it will also break your toe if you accidentally kick it.

7. Spare tire: This, of course, only works with round fruitcakes. Those who choose to employ the “cake” in this manner should remember to maintain a speed of less than 35 mph at all times.

6. Boat anchor: It’s a little-known fact that the U.S. Navy uses fruitcakes in ports of call around the world. Rather than hoisting anchor, however, they cut the fruitcakes away and leave them as artificial reefs. Sadly, the fruitcakes have yet to attract sea life.

5. Doggie chew toy: Gentlemen, don’t be surprised if Rover pitches it out of his dog house and declares that you are no longer his best friend.

4. Next year’s Christmas gift: After all, the folks who sent the fruitcake to you must like it. Send it back to them. It will keep until then. As a matter of fact, scientists recently carbon dated a fruitcake in a European monastery to A.D. 1440. The monks were still passing it around as a gift.

3. Smart bomb: Fruitcake dropped from a height of 12,000 feet superheats as it falls to the earth, much like a meteor. Upon impact, the cake sends fruit flavored shrapnel in all directions. The ordnance may not kill anyone, but it will sure make them leave the area.

2. Interrogation tool: Sure, the use of fruitcake as an interrogation tool is banned by the Geneva Convention, but the clandestine elements of the Central Intelligence Agency have used it for years. People usually spill their guts after the first few bites — in more ways than one.

1. Pastor’s Christmas gift: But only if you want him to leave.

If you were waiting for a spiritual analogy at the conclusion of this article, you won’t find one. Fruitcake is a cut and dry subject — literally. Fruitcake is as fruitcake does. Fruitcake is not your friend. Just say “no” to fruitcake.
Gregory Tomlin, a native of Arkansas, one of the nation’s leading fruitcake-producing states, is director of communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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  • Gregory Tomlin