Gingerbread for the First Sunday of Advent

A sign that I have been a student too long: after the Lessons and Carols advent service tonight at Calvary, a woman approaches me at the refreshments table where I have proudly placed a tray of gingerbread tree cookies, and asks, “Where did you get the recipe for these?” and I say without missing a beat, “The Betty Crocker Textbook.”  Which sounds like something I keep on the shelf next to other important works like The Pathologic Basis of Disease and Gray’s Anatomy.    Image

Advent is a beautiful season. Today, the first Sunday of advent, our church lit the giant evergreen tree outside at 4:30p. ImageImage

Darkness before dinnertime at the senior center, ugh. I would dread these early nights were it not for the lights and candles we festoon on every bough, to scatter the darkness and remind us of the Savior Christ whose birth in great humility sanctified us all with light and peace.  Image

A friend of mine, whose foreign birth has him unconvinced of the merits of the English language, is discomfited by the absence of the “y” in holydays, and rightly so. The meaning of Christmas has lost much more than a letter since medieval times, but perhaps the word can remind us to look for the return of the y—the holy—the second coming we yet await. I love the inklings of Christ’s coming in the Old Testament “shoot out of the stump of Jesse” passages we revisit this time of year—“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion, and a little child shall lead them…They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9) To a promised time of peace like this, I can only chant Come O Come (quick!) and pray that it is a promise that will be kept.  ImageImage

Meanwhile, I will spread good cheer in the form of sugar, put lights and ridiculous garlands all over Fuchsia and Lime, and try to achieve fewer days like today, in which my diet consisted entirely of these: Image

More Addictive Than Crack Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from the old stained cookbook I used to use with Mom (Betty Crocker ala 1960s?)

½ cup sugar

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup dark molasses

¼ cup cold water

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoons ground ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

In large bowl, beat sugar with butter. Then add molasses and water with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheet lightly or put down a layer of parchment. On floured surface, roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut with floured gingerbread cutter or other shaped cutter. On cookie sheet, place cutouts about 2 inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting, or else you’ll have a bunch of melted wax faced gingerbread people.


4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 to 5 tablespoons half-and-half (or nonfat milk and half a stick of butter, like I did today!)

In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, vanilla and half-and-half until frosting is smooth and spreadable.


Seriously, I cannot control myself with these cookies. They deserve their own series of Breaking Bad. My flesh, my flesh is weak (and I don’t care)…particularly the flesh right under my nose and attached to my esophagus. Thankfully they disappeared from the refreshments table in two blinks. I’m already measuring out my willpower to resist making them again for at least a week. Maybe my anticipation for the second Sunday of Advent can be coupled with awaiting a second taste.

“May He whose second Coming in power and great glory we await/ make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and constant in love.”  Amen

14 thoughts on “Gingerbread for the First Sunday of Advent

    1. No way Santa can miss our house… hey, what edition of the Betty Crocker is the one you photocopied for me? All the ones I looked up online don’t match anymore– and in the case of her gingerbread, Betty shouldn’t have changed anything.

  1. Dear Rach, thank you for sharing these beautiful meditations on Advent! I feel even more ready to dive headlong into this season after reading your words. I too attended an Advent service this evening, at St. Marks (Minneapolis, not Seattle 🙂 ). I’d love to visit Calvary with you and KP sometime. LOL at the “textbook” addition you made to the name of that classic cookbook! I guess it is a textbook for its most devoted users! Also, you’re making me want to make and enjoy gingerbread ASAP 🙂

    1. Oh I miss Compline services–laying on the floor in that gorgeous cathedral and listening to monks chant medieval carols like one we did tonight “A Spotless Rose” — “A spotless rose is blowing, sprung from a tender root, of ancient seers’ foreshadowing, of Jesse’s promised fruit; for through our God’s great love and might, the Blessed Babe she bare us in a cold, cold winter’s night.” Come on down anytime to Calvary! And I’ll make you some gingerbread!

      1. I still often find myself longing for those Compline services! Another element of my fond memories of them is carpooling over with fellow Moyerites during my first couple of years in Seattle. What a beautifully evocative, incredibly meaningful carol you shared, thanks for that gift! My favorite I heard this evening was a carol in which the light the angels shone down on the baby in the manger was described as “warm and heavy as pure gold”.

        I just learned that Mpls. St. Marks is doing Compline services most Sunday nights (8:00, I believe, a more Midwestern hour 🙂 ) this month, so if you and KP ever want to come up for one, let me know. Thanks for your invitation to Calvary and gingerbread, sounds like a kiler combination to me! Let me know (in an email, perhaps 🙂 ) when you two may be free in coming months, and/or in need of airport rides to/from MSP – hope to see you soon!

  2. I would have loved to take away one of those trays. The one with gingerbread tree cookies of course. I enjoyed reading your post and that giant evergreen tree, outside your church, looks spectacular. Enjoy December!

  3. Hey, let’s do Compline at Calvary! In fact, once a month it may be happening, as part of the Benedictine Way group.
    Thank you thank you thank you for your presence at the Advent Tree Lighting last night!

    1. Sounds wonderful! I would want to lay own on the floor like I used to in Seattle and let the monk’s choral vibrations through the floor move me. 🙂

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