Tag Archive | Gingerbread men

Christmas Memories~Story Time

 

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Photo by kathiekingeryphotography.com

“Nannie, Can we make gingerbread men like your Mama made?” Kristen asked as she looked up at her great grandmother.

“Oh, I know we can. We may bake gingerbread men tomorrow afternoon.” Nannie said as the timer on the oven beeped.

“Now, lets have cookies fresh from the oven with a glass while of milk and I will tell you all about Christmases past.”

Kristen’s enormous blue eyes twinkled as she climbed on Nannie’s red step stool/chair and laughed as Nannie pushed the vintage stool close to the table.

“Now,” Nannie said as cookies, milk were in place before them and Kristen said a quick blessing, the story began. “When I was your age, I had two older brothers and a baby sister, Maggie. We were a poor family but we were rich in the blessing of love.

“Did you have a Christmas tree?”

“Oh, yes. We always had a Christmas tree. Some years we had small trees but in 1919 we had a wonderful, large tree.

“Did you get to help put the lights and decorations on the tree?”

“Oh, no. We didn’t have electricity.” Nannie smiled at little Kristen’s reaction. “Few people in our neighborhood had electricity. We lit kerosene lamps and candles. There were shelves on the wall to hold the lamps so that they wouldn’t get knocked over. That would have caused a fire, you see.”

“In 1919, we didn’t help with the tree at all. Mama and Papa liked to surprise us. Before going to bed on Christmas Eve, Mama told us to hang us our largest sock on a hook on the mantle of the fireplace. It was so exciting! Eugene and Curtis knew what to expect but it was my first Christmas that I would remember.” Nannie signed, took a sip of milk and looked ahead as if seeing that Christmas on the wall of her memory. “It was hard to go to sleep that night.

My brothers had told me something special would happen in the morning and no matter what, ‘don’t get out of bed!’ Of course, I heard a lot of strange sounds coming from the front room – that’s what Mama called our living room.”

“Oh,” Kristen said as she stuffed the last piece of cookie into her mouth. “What made the noises?”

“I didn’t know. I heard my brothers giggling from their side of the curtain dividing our room. Sometimes I thought I heard Papa’s voice and Mama’s soft laugh but I knew that couldn’t be true because Papa always went to bed at sundown because he had to get up so early to do chores. I finally got to sleep but before the rooster crowed, Eugene and Curtis woke me up. They each held my hand as we walked into the front room with their hands over my eyes. ‘Squeeze your eyes closed – real tight,’ they said. When Mama told me to open my eyes, I couldn’t believe it! A beautifully decorated tree with candles had appeared in the room! At least that’s what I thought.” Nannie said with a chuckle.

vintage Christmas tree with candle

Kristen leaned close and whispered, “Were there bunches of pretty presents under the tree?”

“We each had two gifts under the tree. Mama always knitted hats, scarves and mittens for us; wrapping them as one package and Papa had made a special gift for each of us. He built a small dollhouse for me,  complete with furniture and a doll family to live in it. I was so excited, I almost forgot to look in my sock. The boys didn’t forget, however. They went to the socks first. Each sock contained an orange which was a treat for us. We only had oranges at Christmas. There were nuts, a silver dollar, peppermint sticks and I got new hair ribbons. The boys got brand new pencils and a harmonica for each. We were so excited about our new gifts, we almost forgot breakfast.”

“What did the boys get under the tree, Nannie?”

“They got hand carved horses from Papa.” Nannie smiled and poured more milk for Kristen. “We had pancakes for breakfast. Just as we were beginning to eat, there was a knock on the door. It was then we realized it was snowing. Papa went to the door and there was a large basket of food with our name on it. The card was signed, Merry Christmas!” Nannie stopped to wipe her eyes with the corner of her apron. “The basket of food was sitting on a brand new sled for us to share. You see, we were very poor that Christmas and didn’t even have a chicken to roast for Christmas dinner. There was a turkey with all the fixins’, two pies and a cake. Flour, sugar, salt and coffee were also in the basket. Mama told us only Jesus knew she had used the rest of the ingredients on the pancakes. She said that she prayed about making the gingerbread men because she wouldn’t have enough to bake bread after Christmas. When she sat down at the table, she opened her Bible. God said He would provide and He did.

After breakfast, papa got out his old banjo and we sang Christmas carols all day. The best part was reading about how God provided His Son, baby Jesus so that we can go to Heaven and live with Him some day. You see, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the food or even about the tree. It’s about Jesus; our Savior who left Heaven to be born of a virgin in a stable with a manger for a bed like a lamb.”

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“I love Jesus!” Kristen said as she slid off her stool to give Nannie a big hug. “I love Christmas too.”

“Me too,” Nannie said as she returned the hug. “Now, when you come back tomorrow we will bake gingerbread boys while I tell you about your Grammy’s Christmas when she was your age.”

Just then the doorbell rang and Kristen’s mother walked into the kitchen. “I want to be part of that too! I’ve never heard that story before.”

“Oh, if you come often enough, I could tell enough stories to fill a book. I’m so glad you came! Walking down memory lane always makes me feel like a child again – experiencing the joy of Christmas all over again and again.”

Little Isabel~ Story Time

 

Little Kristen set aside her book and followed a voice coming from the kitchen.

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come…” Nannie put a pie in the oven and wiped her hands on her festive apron and turned to her small granddaughter. “I thought you were playing,” Nannie said as she cleaned flour from the kitchen counter before picking up the child.

“Nannie, I’m bored.”

“Bored? How can you be bored when there is some much work to do before Christmas? With all of your toys, it’s hard to imagine being bored.

“Will you tell me a story? Please?”

“Of course I will tell you a story. What kind of story do you want to hear?”

“My favorite – tell me about when you were a little girl!”

“Well,” Nannie said as she lifted Kristen onto her lap, “that was a long time ago. Do you want to hear anything special?”

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“What was Christmas like when you were a little girl?”

“That was a long time ago but I still remember Mama and Papa making Christmas for us.”

“How long ago?” Kristen asked as she shifted and found a comfy spot on Nannie’s lap.

“A very long time,” Nannie said with a smile. “Lets see, the year was 1919 when I was your age. I remember it well. Since I was too young to go to school, I helped Mama bake cookies.”

“What kind of cookies, Nannie?”

“Gingerbread boys and girls. You see, cookies were part of the tree decoration but I didn’t realize that until Christmas morning.  Mama always put a hole in the gingerbread child’s cap for the ribbon.”

“Did you get to lick the beaters?” Kristen asked as she remembered baking cookies with her Mama.

“Mama mostly used a spoon to mix the cookie batter but she had a egg beater for the eggs and wet ingredients before she spooned in the dry ingredients. Lets see,” Nannie said as she stood up with Kristen and headed for the kitchen. After rummaging through two drawers, she picked up the red handled instrument. “This is what Mama used to beat the eggs and other wet ingredients. See? You turn the handle like this and the beaters turned around and around until the eggs were nice and fluffy. Do you want to try it?”

 

eggbeater

Kristen’s eyes grew big as Nannie demonstrated how the beater worked. “How do you take it apart so that you can lick the beaters?”

“We don’t. It is all one piece. Would you like to try?” Kristen picked up the beater and turned the crank just as she had seen Nannie do. It slipped from her hands and landed on the floor.

“I’m sorry, Nannie!”

“That’s alright pumpkin. I did the very same thing the first time I tried it too. Mama just smiled and said, ‘Isabel, if you don’t get it right the first time, just pick it up and try again and again until you can beat eggs as fast as I can.'”

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy ~ part 1

Little Isabel’s Christmas Joy was posted in 2012 but I thought someone may enjoy reading the story again as we prepare for the most wonderful day of the year – Christmas!
Christmas Joy

Isabel’s Story
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

cookies.”

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

squeaked.