My dad delighted in telling me this story.......... (nearly every Christmas in my youth!)....................
During the war a relative who had moved to Canada sent a letter saying that they knew how difficult things were in the UK, what with the war and everything, and as Christmas was approaching she was going to send all the ingredients for a special Christmas cake they had a recipe for, which they wanted to share. There would be flour and dried fruit, sugar, and mixed peel, and various bits and pieces we would find useful in the baking such as icing sugar and marzipan. It would all come in small packages, we were informed, and probably more than absolutely necessary, just in case anything went astray with the disruption to shipping and communications. And the recipe would follow so we knew how to prepare it, then at Christmas even though separated by the North Atlantic we would all be sharing a common food.
Packages began to arrive. All shapes and sizes. Little ones, big ones, heavy ones, light ones. And one or two that contained unusual things we did not recognise. As Christmas was approaching there was still no sign of the recipe arriving but we have good bakers in the family so they set to work and combined all the ingredients that had arrived and a large moist cake was duly produced, iced and decorated, and at Christmas the extended family converged and celebrated absent friends, and enjoyed it immensely. Scoffing the lot.
Then, some time after Christmas a letter arrived from Canada.
It went thus:
I hope you are all well. I have not heard from you in reply to my sad news sent before Christmas. I have not been able to write since, as things have been difficult here. I wrote to inform you that Uncle James has died and has been cremated. I'd asked you to reply to confirm that you had heard the sad news. I can only assume this letter has gone astray. Anyway he wished to be cremated so we have done this, and it was also his last request that his ashes be scattered here in Canada, but that a portion of his remains be sent back to Scotland to be scattered in Lochaber where he was born. I sent these to you well before Christmas, only a very small amount as a symbolic gesture. If you would like to do this scattering of his ashes we would all be grateful. etc etc etc"
The penny dropped fairly quickly in Lochaber, that Uncle James' remains had indeed arrived.
Unfortunately they had been mistaken for some cake ingredient, and he'd been combined into the delightful confection that had been roundly enjoyed over the festive season!
As my dad left me to digest this information, a process rather more difficult than swallowing a large slab of moist and marzipanny Christmas cake, he added for effect:
"We were able to write back and inform everyone in Canada that Uncle James had, as they'd requested, been scattered all around the district.............................."