Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Life with a Gingerbread Man Cookie

Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Life with a Gingerbread Man Cookie

Article excerpt

My gingerbread man cookie recipe was in the red Christmas book I received from my first husband. It remained my favorite among the 12 cookie recipes I made every year for my family, the neighbors, the church, and many Christmas parties. It was a delicious, hard and crunchy favorite of my young husband and children, who loved it as a breakfast treat, even without frosting, with a cold glass of milk.

Our adopted home, Pine Plains, was a tiny village in the mid-Hudson Valley, where everyone knew everyone. Most were related. It was a dairy farming area and became the first home in the United States of the Aberdeen Angus from Scotland. The Grange was in "full swing," as was the small country Methodist Church that we attended. Most of the congregation were farmers and Grangers, and their wives were marvelous cooks for our monthly church dinners.

Neither my first husband, Lin, nor my second husband, Jim--both were taken young by cancer--nor I were from Pine Plains; we met on the school faculty. We soon became a part of the local community and started a tradition on Christmas Eve. Lin (and later Jim) and the kids delivered bags of our homemade cookies throughout the neighborhood, especially to the older folks. There were always several "men" tucked inside the gift basket, always given with a big smile and a big hug.

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Our annual gingerbread man decorating party started soon after, when the kids were preschoolers. Each child invited a friend or two. I made the gingerbread men in several sizes in preparation for the party. The kids frosted shirts and pants on the baked cookies with several colors of homemade confectionary sugar glaze; and they added eyes, noses, buttons using raisins, sprinkles, and candy. Everyone wore aprons. Everyone took cookies home. Everyone had a messy, wonderful time! Needless to say, it was very successful tradition that went on through elementary school and into high school with all five of my children. I even had photos of my Dad (Pop), on a Christmas visit from Florida, frosting the gingerbread men with help from a grandkid or two, home from college.

When the kids were a little bit older, I decided to add a new adventure to the cookie-making and distribution. A local farmer, Lew Wells, agreed to bring his big hay wagon into town from his farm so we could have a Christmas caroling party. …

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