One of my family’s favorite Christmas traditions was begun when my father-in-law was a student at Gerard College for Boys in Philadelphia, PA. It was a live-in school for boys from 9-17 who were orphaned. He hated being separated from his older brothers who were too old to be accepted to this institution, but in later years realized that he benefited from the great education he received there.
The first several years after marrying his son, Jim Gavitte, I heard stories about “Gingies.” Gingies were a huge gingerbread cookie that was served with all the milk they could drink every Sunday evening. They were meant to keep the boys “regular.” (smile) The boys loved them, and Pop talked about them often.
One year I was wondering what to get him for his birthday. I decided to make a variety of cookies that could be kept in their freezer for him to snack on anytime he wanted. I opened my old Betty Crocker Cookbook (a wedding gift) and found “Gingies from Gerard College in Philadelphia PA!”
You guessed it! I made Pop a huge batch and promised that whenever he ran out to just let me know and I’d bake more. I kept him supplied in Gingies for the rest of his life.
In addition, Gingies became a big part of our family’s holiday tradition. Isn’t it amazing how a particular taste or recipe can become so embedded in our memory that a certain occasion just doesn’t work unless that food is included?
A few years ago when I asked my son, Peter, what he wanted for Christmas, all he wanted was plenty of Gingies.
So this week I went to Smart & Final, a discount grocery store, to buy molasses by the gallon plus brown sugar, shortening, flour and spices in quantities that are cost-effective for the number of Gingies I make every year.
Food traditions are part of what makes a great holiday for many of us. It’s like that certain food reassures us that life is good, some things are unchangeable, and that taste brings back many memories of family and friends that give us a sense of ongoing security.
Next week I’ll bring up the question of traditions that may need to be changed…or at least adjusted…in order to give you and your family a more relaxed, peaceful holiday!
Meanwhile, If your mouth is watering for yummy gingerbread spices, you can download my recipe and tips about making Gingies (or multiple batches of any holiday recipe!)