Manly Men

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                     The Gingerbread Men

It would not be Christmas without “THE MEN”, Gingerbread Men cookies that are a family holiday tradition.

The recipe and trademark attire of  a three raisin vest and sliver of Marchiano cherry lips was created for my daughter’s kindergarten class. This year is their thirtieth celebration.

As class mother in 1982, my responsibility was to provide a holiday refreshment; traditionally a white flour sugar cookie, dripping in red icing and sparkling with glitter sugar, accompanied by cherry  Hi-C Juice.

I could not do it.

My children had been told Ritz crackers were cookies and did not learn differently until they went to school. Birthday cake was carrot cake made with whole wheat flour, and I baked bread.

I searched for a  festive substitute and found gingerbread cookies in The Good House Keeping Cookbook on page 657. Determined to make the cookies healthier yet, I eliminated the sugar, increased the molasses, added whole wheat flour, and loved the results.

They are cute. Their crooked lips and misshapen eyes add personality. But not everyone likes them, it is an acquired taste and even Mr. Wonderful took his time coming on board.

When grammar school was over, I could not stop baking, started delivering decorative containers of MEN to  neighbors, and decorated a table tree in our  foyer with gingerbread men, to wish the teenagers Merry Christmas.

One year my daughter pulled me aside  to whisper there was no “MAN” for Laura. We scribbled a name tag and she hurried to follow my instructions, hang it in the back of the tree and tell Laura to look again, carefully.

These small memories grow huge in my heart and make my holidays special.   … just saying             


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