By Katherine Hinchee Purdy
Isabel’s long curls bounced as she jumped and clapped her hands. “Papa’s coming, Papa’s
coming,” she sang while skipping into the kitchen where Mama was taking out a tray of ginger
bread men from the oven.
“Isabel,” Mama softly chided the child, “you will be out of energy before we trim the tree if you
keep that up! Besides, Papa and the boys have work to do before they bring the tree into the
house. Climb up on the stool and help me decorate some of the cooled cookies.” Mama
walked around the kitchen work table, tied Isabel’s hair back with a ribbon, placed Isabel’s
Christmas apron over her head, and tied it in the back. “Have you washed your hands?”
“Yes ma’am,” Isabel said as she picked up a flat butter knife and began spreading frosting on a
butter cookie. “Mama, do you want me to add some banilla?”
“I think you mean vanilla, dear. I have already added the ingredients while you were skipping around the room.”
“Oh, may I add some ba- I mean vanilla next time?” Isabel asked as Mama carried the empty bowl to the dish pan.
“I’ll bet baby Sylvia wishes she could help too!”
Mama looked at the baby in the cradle in the corner and smiled. “Perhaps next year she can
help. Maggie is only three years old but she did a wonderful job helping with the first batch of
Isabel looked over at her sister napping on the cushioned chest against the back wall, covered
with her favorite quilt. She envied her sister but refused to give in to the urge to nap since she
had declared herself “too old” to nap on her fifth birthday. Besides, if she napped she might miss
something and this little girl didn’t want to miss anything.
Mama turned to the stove and gently used the spatula to remove the cookies from the pan and
placed them on a cooling rack and then stepped into the back porch and returned with a napkin
holding a disc of cooled dough for another batch. While Mama’s back was turned, Isabel quickly
ran her finger around the bowl of icing and quickly popped her finger into her mouth just as Mama
returned to the kitchen.
“Save the icing for the cookies Isabel or you’ll ruin your appetite for supper.”
“Yes ma’am,” Isabel whispered and lowered her head. “I’m sorry.”
“No need to be sorry, child. I did the same thing this morning. The temptation was too great. Just
one more taste and then you can put a ribbon hole in this last batch of gingerbread boys so that
we can hang them from the tree.”
“May we have just one gingerbread boy today?”
“No dear,” Mama said as she placed the cooled cookies into a tin. “If we eat them now, we won’t have any to place on the Christmas tree for you to nibble on Christmas day. Besides, we won’t have any to give away to our neighbors who don’t have children at home anymore. You know how Christmas cookies and gingerbread men always cheer up our lonely friends.”
“Yes, Mama,” Isabel said slowly and looked at the golden boys looking up at her with frosted features. “If we drop one on the floor may we eat it?”
“Perhaps if it is truly an accident, we could all share a bite.”
“Oh,” Isabel sighed and went back to work.
“Mama,” Isabel said as she carefully used a small dowel to place a hole in the last gingerbread
boy’s head. “I wish we could cel-eeee”
“Celebrate” Mama said with a smile.
“Cele-brate Christmas every day!”
“That would be lovely dear but we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We only have one birthday each
year. Besides, if we celebrated every day, don’t you think you would get bored?”
“Oh no,” Isabel said with a smile, revealing a space where a new, permanent tooth was just
beginning to show. “I can never get tired of Christmas.”
Just as she placed the last ribbon hole in the gingerbread boy, the back porch screen door