be a holiday in the Heartland this year ó where Nativity
scenes outnumber Mickey and Goofy at least three to one. And
it will for sure be a white Christmas. I like that.
sentimental this time of year. Holidays bring up memories of
those no longer here. And at the same time, Iím reminded of
the wonder and joy available with each new season. Who would
have guessed two years ago, for example, that putting together
a simple gingerbread house with my first grandchild would now
become a yearly tradition? At age four, Frances now places the
candy decorations on her frosting-covered house with amazing
accuracy. Logan at age two is still a rookie. But he has
figured out that the sweets on his house transfer very easily
into his mouth when Grammy isnít looking.
to my research, gingerbread houses began their tradition in
Germany when the Brothers Grimm published a fairy tale about
Hansel and Gretel. Lost in the forest, these children came
upon a house made of bread and trimmed with sugarÖjust what
hungry kids need, right?
after this story emerged, German bakers began to make spiced
ginger cakes called lebkuchen into sugar-decorated houses that
were particularly popular at Christmas.
thereís much more sugar in gingerbread than ginger ó an
aromatic plant valued for its medicinal powers, according to
the National Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and
Integrative Health (www.nccih.nih.gov). Scientific studies
suggest that ginger may help relieve nausea and vomiting
associated with pregnancy. Researchers also believe ginger ó
when used in addition to anti-nausea medications ó may help
to control the stomach queasiness that may accompany cancer
canes supposedly made their way into Christmas tradition by
way of a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany. In 1670,
according to an article in Christianity Today, said choir
director handed out white sticks of sugar candy to fidgety
kids he hoped to subdue for a live Nativity scene. Not sure if
this was successful but it helped make candy canes a Christmas
tradition. German immigrants brought the sugar canes to
America where they eventually received red stripes and
my favorite "Enjoy! Itís Christmas!" indulgence,
appears to be an adaptation of sugar, cream and milk-based
drinks that the English often enjoyed with added rum, brandy
or whiskey for cold winter nights. (Did I mention Iím having
a white Christmas?) Itís a long-held tradition in our family
to share a glass of eggnog sprinkled with nutmeg when we get
home from Christmas Eve candlelight service.
Christmas, as I steep hot tea in the china teapot lovingly
painted by my mom many years ago and sip from the colorful cup
given to me by a dear friend, I will remember those whose
connections have made my holiday seasons special.
we get home from Christmas Eve candlelight service this year,
we will surely have a glass of eggnog with nutmeg sprinkled on
Christmas be full of joyful memories and traditions as well.