I’ll have to admit that I like fruitcake…good fruitcake. Despite the bad reputation and jokes about this strange culinary tradition of being used for door stops, I welcome the taste each holiday season. Admittedly, it may be the most re-gifted present on the planet. I seldom eat a piece of fruitcake that I don’t think of a story a friend conveyed to me years ago.

It seems that his Aunt Martha made fruitcakes each year to give as presents to family and friends. Dozens of these cakes were carefully wrapped, tied off with red ribbons, and distributed as the Christmas holiday neared. Most of the family pretended to like the fruitcakes to appease the old lady but never ate a bite of them during family gatherings. Aunt Martha never inquired or pressed the recipients for reports of their flavor, perhaps sensing that many became souvenirs or book ends. Regardless, the tradition continued for years as she delivered them with a huge smile and a proud embrace.
Eventually, Martha’s health declined and she lost her sight, forcing her to move into a nursing facility. During a visit by her nephew, she reminisced about how much she missed making her famous fruitcakes and handing them out to relatives. She confided in him that the tradition had gone back for two generations, remembering how she had helped her grandmother as a little girl in the kitchen during the holidays. She told him that she knew that a lot of folks don’t like fruitcake but that wasn’t what was truly important. With tear filled eyes, she confided that the tradition of “cooking up some love and sharing it with people” meant the most to her.

Her nephew found the long lost recipe and picked up all of the ingredients at the supermarket that afternoon. The next day, Aunt Martha’s assistance and knowledge provided the guidance needed for his unskilled hands to bake and wrap the annual tradition. Aunt Martha beamed as she handed out the cakes with newfound energy, despite her frail condition. At her funeral a few months later, relatives conversed and traded stories about her love and generosity. Copies of the fruitcake recipe were handed out with many of the family vowing to carry on the tradition.

Despite some of the anti-police sentiment that we are currently witnessing across the country, it’s comforting to know that the Kentucky State Police tradition of helping those in need continues. It may take many forms such as raising 232,011 pounds of food for hungry families in our ‘Cram the Cruiser’ campaign or taking needy kids shopping in the ‘Shop with a Trooper’ program. Our presence and influence continues to be felt and appreciated across the Commonwealth because of your generosity and kindness. We continue to be deeply committed in our mission to make rural communities a safer and better place to live, regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world. That unwavering sense of community involvement brings me stability, comfort, and joy this Christmas season, much like Aunt Martha’s fruitcake.

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