Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gingerbread Boy

We're busy baking around here . . . making memories.  One tradition that I carried over from my childhood is making large gingerbread boys to gift and to eat.  Oh, they're delicious!  I know, I know . . . everyone thinks their own baking is the best.  But you'll appreciate this: last month, my sister-in-law said my brother still has a gingerbread cookie in the freezer from last Christmas that he's saving for the first of December; she ended by saying, "And he won't let me have it!"  So, I'm asking you, how many of you save your Christmas baked goods until the following November?  It's that good!

And it should be -- because boy is it labor intensive!  I feel like I've been rolling, cutting-out, baking and cleaning, decorating and cleaning with the kids all day.  Wait . . . that is what I've been doing all day!  Meanwhile, what I'm baffled by is that when I was growing up, my Mom did this for all three of our classes.  How did she do that?  But boy have the kids enjoyed it!  And when we were all done, I thought I'd never recover from the pleading of them wanting to do more.  What a fun and memorable experience!

The traditional reading a tale of The Gingerbread Boy accompanies the baking of gingerbread boys around our house.   You know the tale: a charming elderly couple bakes a gingerbread boy who in turn runs away as soon as the oven door opens.  Then everyone and their brother salivatingly chases that little rascal gingerbread boy as he mockingly and boastfully sings:
Run, run -- as fast as you can!
You can't catch me!  I'm the gingerbread man!
I ran away from the little old lady and the little old man.
And I can run away from you too, I can, I can!

I grew up with the Little Golden Book edition pictured above (c. 1965, reprinted 1978) entitled The Gingerbread Man, which has quite an unsentimental ending: And that was the end of the gingerbread man.  But then, nobody felt bad about that.  After all, everybody knew that gingerbread men are baked to be eaten.

However, I have to say that as endeared to the Golden Book edition as I am, I also love Paul Galdone's edition (c.  1975) entitled The Gingerbread Boy.  I find it interesting that in Galdone's story the charming elderly couple is childless, hence their rationale to fashion a gingerbread boy, which, of course, makes the ending a bit more pitiful.  If you haven't checked out a Galdone book yet, now is the time!

Either way, I'm telling you, those gingerbread boys are as sought after as square footage in Manhattan!


  1. I loved making gingerbread men, too. But...I am going to be honest. The Gingerbread Man book use to irritate me to no end. I adored being read to when I was young but this book always incited anger. Haha! "How dare he run away and make everyone chase him!" Nevertheless, I do wish I had the copy we had. It was a larger book. Makes me want to go track one down.

  2. Jenny, you have me laughing out loud!

  3. When we moved to the UK, I donated our rolling pin because I never used it!

    Turns out they don't make/sell graham crackers to make Gingerbread Houses. So either we hand make our own (gasp!) or I just distract them with other traditions :) XO L