Tag Archives: Christmas goodies

traditions: goodie bags and the gingerbread gospel

2749c40ef0109887d41f0ee9930f7839Did you know that today is National Gingerbread House Day? It’s true. Look it up.

Decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. According to my research, the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm’s fairytale Hansel and Gretel, in which two children, abandoned in the forest, find an edible witch’s house made of bread and sugar decorations…you know how it goes. After the book was published in 1812, German bakers began creating these ornamental fairytale houses of “lebkuchen,” which is German for “gingerbread.”

Before long, these little houses became popular during the Christmas season and a new tradition had begun.

All things gingerbread sure haven’t changed much in the years since its deluctible beginnings in Germany. Immigrants brought the cookie delights to American when they came here and markets all around the world still sell decorated gingerbreads houses and villages.

Few have even taken it further:

  • In Bergen, Norway, people and children get to create a gingerbread city each year. The tradition began in 1991 and is today, the largest gingerbread city in the world…small scale, of course.

    gingerbread city

  • Just this year, a group in Bryan, TX broke the Guinness World Record for the largest gingerbread house by creating an edible – you read that right: edible! – 2,520-square-foot gingerbread house to aid a local hospital. Believe it or not, this record was previously owned by the Mall of America.
  • There are Gingerbread House Competitions held all over the world each year.
  • The list goes on.

In years past, my church group has held our own miniature version of a gingerbread house competition – see photos:





Granted, we used graham crackers instead, but fun, right?

I personally am not a huge fan of gingerbread, but I do enjoy baking and creating treats each year. Over Thanksgiving weekend (Black Friday), I opt to kick-off my annual holiday bake-off, which I started three years ago. During that time, I make anywhere from 12-32 dozen cookies and 4-5 lbs. of fudge. All of them are made with butter and sugar substitutes, making them less in fat and lighter in sugar content (not to mention calories).

I rarely keep any of those treats for myself. I used to, three years ago, before I decided to start leading a healthier life. I may not eat as many sweets as used to, but I do allow myself the smaller-portioned amount at each holiday festivity I attend. Note small.

Instead, I share what I make with the people in my life – my friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family. In a way, sharing these treats connects to sharing the love of Christ with those around me. I don’t expect anything in return – I share and give because I want to. And with that, I’ll leave you with this fun read: The Gingerbread Gospel.

*I’ve tweaked it some as the original was written in a way that children could understand it. Please let your mindset be that of a child while reading through this.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a life-sized gingerbread house? What would your favorite candy house be made out of? What would you use for beds, chairs, pillows, toys? (Best shared with children…hear them out…or better yet, let your own imagination flow).

That would almost seem like the perfect place to live, wouldn’t it? Well, the Bible tells us about a real  live ‘perfect place to live.’ It’s called Heaven. Long ago, that’s where Jesus lived. But God decided to send Jesus from His perfect house in Heaven to Earth (John 6.39).

What was the first house Jesus liked in on Earth – a stable.

What is a stable? A barn.

What would it have looked liked? What would have been in that stable? What would it have smelled like? And Jesus’ first bed was a manger. What is a manger? (Luke 2.1-7)

Was it anything like the perfect place Jesus came from?

[I’m actually remembering the barn I grew up working in…back home….dairy air…or derriere, depending on how you look at it, and I can’t help but wonder, why there?]

Now, why do you think that God would send His own Son from a perfect house in heaven, to a dirty, smelly, cold place like a stable?

Because He loves us very much!

[God wants us] to know Him so He sent [Jesus] to tell you and show you all about God. Jesus did just that. He taught us about God, and the things that He taught are all written down for us in the Bible (John 3.16).

On day, when Jesus was still a young man, He left his home on Earth. He died for all [our sins]. And now He has a new home.

Do you know where that is?

[Within us.]

[He has forgiven us our sins and we’ve been made free! (John 14.15-17)]


He [has done so] that we can all live with Him forever in that perfect , wonderful place (heaven) (Luke 1.31-33; John 6.38-40; John 14.1-3).

Review the types of houses we’ve talked about: heaven, stable/earth, our hearts, heaven.

[Now, look to the gingerbread house] and remember how much Jesus loves you every time you look at it…remember that Jesus wants to be a part of your life and that He has invited you to live with Him in heaven one day.

© Kelly Hancock, http://faithfulprovisions.com/2009/12/07/the-gingerbread-gospel-2/

© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

love is staying home on black friday

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2.13-14

The most popular holiday is upon us. Stores are lining their aisles with Christmas goodies and décor, TV networks have been airing holiday specials since the start of November and Santa has arrived at shopping centers around the country. Oh, and Black Friday…or Rowdy Thursday, as I’ve come to call it.

I found myself pondering the rush of today’s holiday season to the birth of Christ. God created a frenzy (localized) without the power of TV, without candy canes and Black Friday sales. He involved a poor couple who would bring the Son of God into the world.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2.4-7

It’s Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year. Sales started yesterday, which, in my humble opinion, is a crying shame. Thanksgiving should be spent at home with family. Not at the mall.

It’s Black Friday. A day when, in years passed, people have died (both employees and customers alike) in pursuit of the biggest sale, weapons have been wielded over the last item on the shelf and the year’s biggest toy can bring out the worst in people (remember Tickle-Me-Elmo?).

I cringe when I hear the first strains of Black Friday specials and even more so when they start posting store hours for Thanksgiving Day.

My family hasn’t once set foot in a store over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and I don’t have any intention of ever doing so, in the foreseeable future at least….unless it was absolutely necessary (i.e. last minute turkey dinner shopping needs or emergencies). My Mom doesn’t see the purpose or the joy in fighting over the best deal just so you can save a few bucks and she’s managed to leave that legacy to her children.

Since I’ve left home, I’ve discovered that I love cooking and baking (holiday baking only). I choose to share that experience with my mom and my sister (and sometimes my grandmother) over the holiday weekend each year. We’ve officially called it a “Holiday Bake-off,” a special event where we make more than 50 dozen goodies to share with friends and family during the coming month. Grandma and Mom share memories from when they were growing up, silly memories are shared by the spoonful (pun intended) and laughter abounds, blending in with the sounds of the electric mixer, Christmas tunes streaming from the iPod, Hallmark holiday movies airing back to back, the warmth of the oven and the cool breeze of a cracked window. Oh what fun we have!

For us, love is staying home on Black Friday. Always has been.

People seem to have forgotten that love isn’t hurting another to get your child what they want for Christmas. Why not do that which is right and moral? Why not give what they need instead? Why not stay home and bask in the love, fellowship and joy of community with your family and friends?

People also seem to have forgotten that Christmas isn’t just about showing love for those you care for, but for those who are undeserving and those in need; those you don’t even personally know (this goes for every other day of the year too). God gave of Himself. He came to earth, lived a human life and died a death He didn’t deserve so He could save those who are undeserving and those He didn’t physically know during His time on earth (you and me). Why not reflect on that and share God’s love with those around you?

Why not remember today the true meaning of Christmas?

Peace on earth

Goodwill toward men

The Savior has come to show us how to love, live and give.

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus, John 10.9-11

Instead of rushing to buy the fanciest toy at the lowest price possible, think of how you can give to those who normally would go without. How can you help those less fortunate? How can you show them the true meaning of Christmas? How can you share God’s love with them? What would that look like lived out, not just today, but every day?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The Great Commission – Matthew 28.18-20