My mother used to be the type who baked from scratch. For my formulative years, we always had homemade jams and jellies, applesauce, canned peaches and pears, stored green beans, fresh baked bread and cookies. It was wonderful. I could read the Little House On the Prairie series and completely relate when Mrs. Ingalls-Wilder described country cooking. In middle school, my mother stopped baking anything but dinner (the occassional casserole, soup and roasts) unless it was from a box. This might have something to do with the insane amount of mess which baking and canning and jellying and jamming creates. Or the fact she returned to full time teaching. Who knows.

Christmas brings out the baker in my mother once again. For some reason, she finds it justifiable to ban us all from the kitchen during Christmas tide and never any other season. She produces frosted pretzel sticks, home made granola and fruity bread to give as gifts to her friends. The part which strikes me as funny is the fact she only will bake during the week of Christmas itself. She never leaves herself extra time to leisurely bake granola or have fun decorating pretzel sticks. No, it must be a frantic flustering of missing ingredients, preoccupied ovens, and hurried returns to the grocery store for more supplies.

Baking at our house isn’t as much fun as it once was. We usually go it alone – Kiki randomly making cookies or RJ throwing together some bean dip to munch in front of the TV. I will once in a while try my hand at baking, usually to either great success or dismal failure. Lately, it’s been more on the successful side, which is pleasant.This morning I decided to make gingerbread. From scratch. I love gingerbread. My mother will sometimes bring home a “surprise” box from the store to bake with her famous lemon sauce, but nothing compares to the real thing made from your own supplies and with your own quirks. Not that I’ve ever baked gingerbread from scratch before to formulate my own quirks. But still. It’s chilling in the fridge right now. Tomorrow, I’m going to make gingerbread men.

When Cole and I were the only two yahoos running around in the house back when…we would each receive a huge-normous gingerbread likeness of ourselves for Christmas from some probably-dead-now relative or family friend. We’d sit there and eat the bread leather crust of my mom’s bread, drink some home made apple juice and just gaze in happiness at the little Cole and the little Rogue lying on the kitchen counter under a doom shroud of wax paper. And after the proprietary amount of “healthy” foods were eaten, we could enjoy teasing each other by eating different body parts. “My man can still beat up your man because he has a head and yours doesn’t!!!”

Not that I’m going to make mini gingerbread me’s of myself, Cole, Kiki and RJ…they’d probably get offended at the fat-factor of their little self, or size or candy amount, etc etc etc. Just because we’re grown up and it’s Christmas doesn’t mean we still don’t quibble over sibling-esque things. And it just wouldn’t be the same without bread leather anyway.

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