GiGi Harvey's Fruit Salad

GiGi Harvey’s “Fruit Soup” (AKA Fruit Salad)

This is something my mom serves at holiday meals that all the grandkids love (and request). When I asked her for the recipe, in typical Southern style, this was her response:

“It varies a lot. I use around 2-3 cans of tidbit pineapple, 3 or so larger cans of mandarin oranges. Drain off juices into a large bowl, gradually add/whisk 1 large or 2 small instant puddings (I usually use sugar-free white chocolate or French vanilla). Add halved cherries, grapes, and sliced kiwi. I usually refrigerate overnight and add sliced bananas immediately before serving. This makes a large bowl, but can downsize if desired. Did I forget any fruit? It’s very flexible.”

So, alter as needed for your family’s preferences or according to local grocery shortages!

My Starting Right Friendsgiving 2021 Recipe Swap version was:

3x 15oz. cans Del-Monte no sugar added Mandarin oranges

3x 8oz. cans Dole pineapple tidbits in 100% pineapple juice

2x 1oz. boxes Jell-O sugar free white chocolate pudding *

4 sliced kiwis **

2 cups halved white grapes

½ cup halved Maraschino cherries

2 sliced bananas ***

  1. Drain juices from oranges and pineapples into a large bowl

  2. Whisk pudding into fruit juice

  3. Add all fruits except bananas and stir

  4. Refrigerate overnight

  5. Add bananas before serving


* Upon taste-testing, I wish I had used French vanilla (sometimes it is hard to find).

** The kiwis I used are some kind of “sun gold” yellow; the green kiwis are prettier (but I didn’t see those in the store that day).

*** In our family, a few servings are taken out before the bananas are added for a few who dislike bananas.


So, now the rest of the story. Because I HATE when blogs bury the recipe under ruminations reminiscent of a Victorian novel.

A group of amazing ladies at my church that I was originally scared to join is having a "friendsgiving recipe swap." If you know me very well you know words like "recipe swap" have me in a cold sweat edging towards the exit.

So I was going to go the predictable route and make my grandmother Jensen's pumpkin pie. But when Shelby found out why I had the recipe out, she requested "GiGi's fruit soup!" Actually, she had a good point. That sounded less like a typical holiday recipe that someone else may bring. Besides that, eccentricity is my specialty.

Then my printer wouldn't work, and I needed to share the recipe! My blog seemed to make the most sense.

And then of course I got to thinking. And when I am thinking I start writing. And when I start writing it is difficult for me to stop.

Sometimes, especially at the holidays, flexibility is the name of the game. I know, I KNOW it is a time for traditions and expectations that bust right through the rooftop and frighten off any loitering reindeers' paws. As a society we scramble to put our best face forward for almost six full weeks ... wanting to be the most sparkling, most surprising, do-all-the-things versions of our selves.

But, what if, like an uncharacteristic recipe, we went with the flow? What if we made little changes for the size of our tribe (or budget!) instead of charging ahead with the "Go big or go home!" mantra trailing across ticker-tape credit card receipts?

What if we were ok with using different ingredients than granny always used?During the last two years we have been through the wringer. Grocery stores have been an adventure - you never know exactly what you are going to find (and they tell us it is going to get worse before it gets better). Most of your Depression Era ancestors would applaud your ingenuity rather than look down on you for using something different.

We tell one another Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays ... but from these great heights many have fallen hard. The more Christmases you have experienced, the greater the chances that you have had some years that things were less than magical. Bad news hit hard at the wrong time, pillars of the family were no longer there to hold us up, poor health drained the joy from what used to rejuvenate you. Yet it might feel like everyone else is experiencing nothing but snowflakes and kittens.

A flexible fruit salad instead of a traditional pie just might be the thing that says "This year is different, and that is ok." As a first responder family, holidays are almost always different and it HAS to be ok for US to be ok.

The King of heaven, the Savior of the world, the Warrior who will come back to slay the old dragon once and for all, came in an unexpected way, in an unexpected place, at an unexpected time, and changed everything. Don't forget that Jesus is what this is all about.

If the holidays are especially hard for you this year ... please don't face them alone. Reach out to someone. If you think you don't have anyone, there is always someone, somewhere, who cares (even though they don't know you yet!) waiting to accept your call:

1-800-273-8225 (national suicide prevention hotline)

1-281-652-5555 (KSBJ's 24 hour prayer hotline)

1-888-388-2683 (Billy Graham 24 hour prayer hotline)