When I was young I loved helping my mother make fruitcakes for our neighbors at Christmas time. I greased the little loaf pans, added dried fruit and pecans to the bowl as my mother whisked the batter, the kitchen smelling of nutmeg and cinnamon and candied orange peel. Later I helped her deliver the fragrant loaves, freshly wrapped, to families up and down the street. Years later, as newlyweds my husband and I made five kinds of Christmas cookies one evening while we listened to Christmas music and kissed each other under the kitchen mistletoe, then delivered an entire platter of cookies to our surprised next-door neighbor.
Back then it was fun to be in the community of neighborhood gift givers. But then we started having children and Christmases became hectic.