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It’s all about the fruitcakes

December 22, 2012

I’ve always wondered about holiday fruitcakes.  I’ve seen them given as gifts over the years; I’ve even received a few.  But I have yet to actually meet anyone who loves them so, if you are one of those rare creatures let me know, I’d like to meet you.  I’ve come to believe that these cakes are just one those Christmas traditions we all carry out but don’t know why, like green bean casserole.

I also suspect that they are the leading candidates for the practice of regifting; where you get a gift you don’t want and quickly pass it on to an unsuspecting friend.  I am sure that letter carriers, paper delivery guys and all those folks you feel you “ought to” give a gift to end up with a lot of regifted fruitcakes.  It would not surprise me that each fruitcake made makes four or five joyous holiday gifts; sort of like a modern day multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

But where do they come from?  One place is a Trappist Monastery in Missouri.  For decades now the resident monks have been funding their monastery by baking and selling fruitcakes.  They make about 125 fruitcakes a day on all work days and sell them via an extensive mail order business and a few specialty retailers.  This comes to about 25,000 cakes a year, proving that there at least some fruitcake fans out there.

Sadly however the number of monks is declining as fewer people are taking up the contemplative lifestyle.  The number of monks is down to ten and only five of them actually live at the monastery.  Their average age is over 80.  The net result now is that it takes all of them all of their time to keep the business going.  Or, in other words, they spend all of their time making fruitcakes in order to fund their work of making fruitcakes.

We’d never do that in our churches would we?  We’d never carry on a tradition just because we have always done it that way.  We’d never continue any church functions that have long since ceased to effective just because we are comfortable doing them.  We’d never allow our worship and fellowship to devolve down into things that are comfortable for us that are meaningless and confusing to newcomers.  We’d never continue ministries that no longer minister or outreaches that no longer reach just because we like doing it.  There is no need for us to examine ourselves to see if we need to change anything in how we do church in the 21st century.  We can go right on making fruitcakes.

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From → Christianity

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