Large snowflakes were slowly falling to the ground, covering it like a white blanket, and making the environment look white, clean and cold. Throughout the north Idaho area people were scurrying around, finishing their last-minute chores and preparing for the long winter months ahead.
The men were busy bringing home the wild meat and smoking it. They were also bringing in their final cords of firewood. They were doing their best to help provide for their families and sustain their households through the winter season.
The women were finishing up their canning and whatever tasks were left over in order to complete their work of “putting up” the harvest. As soon as they were finished with their preparations for winter, they would begin preparation for the Christmas holiday which was just a few weeks away. Anna Redding was no exception. She scurried about her small, single-level long home that she and her husband, Jacob, has purchased so they would have a home, a place to live after retiring from their working years.
The log home stood nestled between small groups of evergreen trees which were located at the base of Baldy Mountain, near Sandpoint, Idaho. Included with the loan for the home was a five-acre parcel of land which surrounded the log home. The Reddings had also built a small garage which they attached to the left end of the home, and a barn that was only a short distance from the home. In the barn they had two dairy cows and several laying hens to help provide milk and eggs for their family of two. They had managed their finances well and planned their retirement. Now the barn was filled with hay and food for the critters.
Although the snowy weather was snowy and cold, the log home was warm, clean and comfortable. The floor throughout the home was constructed from a variety of wooden planks cut from various types of wood and stained in a yellow oak color. The floor in each separate room, except for the kitchen, was covered in large oval-shaped, brightly colored braided rugs. The rugs covered the main area of each room, leaving the wooden planks exposed only in the high-traffic areas.
Each room in the log home had one of the primary or secondary colors as a theme color for its décor, and the curtains for each room were made with that color of cotton fabric. Then, to provide a classic-country look, each room contained multicolored objects such as old bottles, crocks, wrought-iron objects, photographs and quilts—lots of quilts! Anna loved sewing quilts, and she made small picture-like ones to hang on the walls and large ones to cover the beds, chairs and sofa. Anna also made several homemade pillows with quilted fronts and solid-colored cotton backs, and she distributed them liberally between the bedrooms and the living room. The home was lavishly decorated with bright and beautiful colors which made a cozy, warm décor. Yet, even with all this cheery décor, Anna knew a thick cloud of depression hung in the atmosphere of her home.
Jacob and Anna Redding were still grieving the loss of their 30 year old daughter, Cindy, who died in a tragic car accident only sixth months before. The Reddings were slowly recovering from their loss but symptoms of grief were still there. Jacob was unusually quiet as he went about finishing his preparations for winter. Anna, who usually sang her favorite country songs as she scurried about her home working, didn’t feel like singing so she was quiet except when she had to speak to someone. She had a sorrowful countenance and a sad look on her face. She wondered how long it would take before this cloud of depression dissipated and left her home.
In addition to dealing with their own grief, the Reddings inherited Cindy’s two children whose father had abandoned his family several years before. Jacob and Anna loved their two grandchildren very much and wanted to care for them. However, they had forgotten how hard parenting was, how much work was involved, and how much providing for children would cost.
Though they had tucked away a tidy sum for their retirement years, they knew that they would have to be extremely frugal and exceedingly wise when managed their money so it would last them for the rest of their lives. Yet they knew God was with them and he would help them. They also had to suffer with the normal aches, pains and limitations of growing older. The Reddings wondered if they would be able to complete the task the Lord had set before them.
Suzi, Cindy’s oldest child was ten years of age. She had long dark brown hair and blue eyes. Suzi loved nature, arts and crafts, cooking, reading and playing with the family dog, Bruno.
Suzi and Bruno were outside playing in the snow. Suzi was making snowballs and throwing them for Bruno to retrieve. The energetic puppy would chase after the balls, but when he tried to grab them with his teeth, the snowballs would break apart and fall to the ground. Bewildered by balls falling apart, Bruno would return to Suzi who would then make and throw another snowball for the dog. Once again the dog would chase after the snowball. It was a funny sight to see!
Bruno, now five-months old, was a mixture of German Shepherd and Husky. He had long thick hair that was mainly light brown in color, except for the hair on his back, belly, tail and head. Bruno had a long patch of black hair that covered the top part of his body from his head all the way to the end of his tail. It looked similar to a mane on a horse. The black also encircled his eyes, making it look like he had two black eyes. Long white hair covered Bruno’s bottom half, extending from the tip of his tail, across his belly, up his neckline and underneath his jaw. Bruno had dark brown eyes. The Reddings had previously purchased Bruno to guard their homestead and provide a pet and playmate for their two grandchildren.
Eric, Cindy’s youngest, was a six-year old boy with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was overflowing with energy and always wanted to “help” whenever someone would get a project started. Eric especially liked following Grandpa Jacob around, helping him with household repairs and yard work. Eric also liked helping Grandma Anna when she cooked in the kitchen.
Grandma Anna was about five feet three inches tall with a slender figure and a pretty face. Though she was 55 years old, you would never know by looking at her that she was this old. Anna’s hair was dark brown with a few grey hairs sporadically mixed in with the brown. The grey hair was barely noticeable. Anna’s complexion was light tan in color and free from blemishes. Her eyes were greenish blue. Anna had a loving heart toward God, her family and her home. Though Suzi was outside playing with Bruno and Eric was busy helping Grandpa, Anna still sensed the cloud of depression in her home, and in spite of her own grief and uncertainty, she was determined to encourage her family! She wanted to do whatever she could to make that cloud of depression dissipate and leave their home. She wanted her family to be happy again!
Anna’s friend and neighbor, June Clark, gave the Reddings several boxes of apples from her orchard hoping to help the family. After receiving the apples, Anna spent several days making pies, apple butter and applesauce to put away for the months ahead. Today Anna spent her morning cooking the last of the apples, making several pints of applesauce and freezing it. The task of preparing and preserving the apples had been huge and tiresome, but now it was completed. Anna breathed a sigh of relief and sat down to relax and consider what she needed to do next. Since it was 11:30 a.m. she knew lunch would be next on the agenda, but she also knew Suzi could handle that project. So Anna called Suzi and asked her to come in and prepare lunch.
Suzi and Bruno made their way into the house and she changed clothes and began fixing lunch. Suzi heated up vegetable soup and made toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch. Anna stayed nearby, relaxing in a living room chair, but available if Suzi needed help.
Meanwhile Eric and Grandpa Jacob came inside to warm up after their task of stacking wood in the garage. Though Eric was a little small, he could carry some of the lighter pieces of wood and he could provide Grandpa with company. After shedding their winter clothing, Jacob and Eric began commenting on how hungry they were, but Anna assured them that lunch was nearly ready.
“Come and get it!” Suzi hollered from the kitchen. Soon the family gathered and ate their soup and sandwiches. The food comforted them some but Anna new the sadness was still there. Anna and Suzi quickly cleaned up the lunch dishes and went their separate ways.
While sitting in her rocking chair, Anna considered her next project. “Now I need to begin preparing for Christmas,” she thought to herself, “How can I help prevent our family from having a blue Christmas this year?” Suddenly Anna was determined to do all she could to comfort her family and help ease the pain of their loss. “Perhaps we could make some gingerbread boys to stash in the freezer for the holiday season,” she thought. Then she smiled and began humming the Christmas song, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Then she went to the kitchen, found the cookbook and opened it to the recipe. Next she gathered the ingredients, bowls and utensils needed for making the cookies. When she was ready, she called out to the children, “Suzi! Eric! Could you come and help me, please?”
Responding to the call, both children came from their perspective rooms to see what Grandma wanted.
“Sure, Grandma,” Suzi replied, “What do you need help with?”
“Yeah, Grandma,” Eric said with excitement when he noticed the baking ingredients sitting on the kitchen counter. “What can I help you with?” Eric loved helping Grandma Anna in the kitchen, especially when he could get some “bites” or lick the bowl and spoon.
“I need you to help me make some cookies for Christmas,” Anna said as she pointed to the recipe for gingerbread boys in her open cookbook.
“I’d love to help, Grandma,” Suzi replied.
“Oh, boy!” said Eric, anticipating the tasty morsels of cookie dough he might be able to sample as they worked.
Grandma Anna helped Eric get the step stool, setting it up next to where she would be standing while mixing the ingredients. Now Eric could see inside the bowl and watch as Grandma stirred the ingredients together. Eric was to grandma’s left and Suzi worked on the right. Suzi measured out the ingredients with help from Anna, and Eric helped Grandma pour them in the bowl and mix up the dough. Anna kept a close eye on the boy.
“What should we do now?” Suzi asked.
“Turn on the oven to 375 degrees to warm it up,” answered grandma.
“I want to help, Grandma,” Eric said staring up at her with a questioning look. “What can I do?”
“Climb down carefully and get the cookie pans from the bottom cupboard,” Anna replied.
Eric hesitated for a moment trying to remember what the cookie pans looked like. Then he remembered and hurried to retrieve the pans.
Next Anna pulled the rolling pin and gingerbread boy cookie cutters from a drawer in the kitchen.
“The ovens on, Grandma,” Suzi replied. “Now what?”
“Get the flour, so we can roll out the dough and cut it,” Grandma replied. Suzi went to retrieve the flour.
“Crash! Bang! Boom!” a big noise came from the area where Eric was trying to retrieve the cookie pans. Startled by the noise, Anna and Suzi turned around to see what the commotion was. They saw Eric with metal cookie sheets scattered all over the kitchen floor.
“Are you OK?” Anna asked the lad who seemed to be started by the noise.
“Yes, Grandma, I’m fine,” Eric said with a bewildered look on his face.
“What happened?” Anna asked the boy.
“I got the pans out…but they were too heavy,” said the boy trying to explain what happened. Apparently the lad had tried to bring a large stack of cookie sheets instead of only one or two.
Grandma Anna reassured the boy that everything was OK. Then she quickly helped him wash the pans and put away all but the ones they needed for the gingerbread boys. Then Eric climbed back on the stool to watch again.
Suzi soon came with the flour. Then Anna divided the dough into thirds and spread a little flour on the kitchen counter and rolled out the dough with her rolling pin.
“What are you doing now?” Suzi asked her grandmother.
Anna turned toward Suzi and began explaining the process of rolling out dough to make cookies. But Anna temporarily forgot about the curious little boy on her left.
When Eric saw the white powdery substance on the counter his curiosity got the better of him. He just had to find out what it was like! So Eric stuck his hand flat down into the flour, feeling the texture and coating his hand with it. When Eric lifted his hand, he saw the white powder sticking to it and decided to wipe his hands on his shirt and pants to clean them off. Before long Eric looked like a miniature snowman standing in a pile of snow.
Soon Anna turned around and saw the big mess. “What are you doing?” she asked Eric.
“I wanted to see what that white stuff was,” replied Eric.
“Look at the mess you’ve made!” said Grandma Anna.
“I’m sorry, Grandma,” said the boy.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Anna. “We’ll clean you up when we get done,” she said.
Anna finished rolling out the cookie dough, and the trio worked fervently cutting out gingerbread boys until only a small piece of dough—too small for a cookie—remained in the bowl. Anna supervised while Suzi time and baked the cookies, creating an aroma of ginger and spices throughout the whole house. Every time a new batch of cookies came from the oven, they all had to sample one.
Soon Jacob came from the bedroom where he had been resting and reading a book.
“What is that wonderful aroma?” He asked.
“We’re making cookies, Grandpa,” Eric said, “Do you want to try one?”
“Sure,” said Jacob; then Eric handed him a cookie.
Jacob took the cookie with him to the recliner in the living room. “Mmm…good,” Jacob replied as he took the first bite.
As Eric stood on his stool, watching Suzi remove the gingerbread boys from a platter and placing them on a cookie sheet, the boy became frustrated.
“Hurry up, Suzi,” Eric commented, “What takes you so long?” Then he reached over to grab a little dough boy from the platter. As he tried to pick up the cookie, he accidently ripped the arm off.
“Oh, no,” Eric lamented, “I broke him.” The boy, upset about breaking the little gingerbread man, was unusually quiet for a few minutes. Finally speaking he said, “Is this what happened to my mommy?” The boy was still trying to understand what happened when the car accident claimed his mother’s life only six months earlier.
“In a way,” answered Anna. “But your mommy was hurt so bad that she couldn’t live anymore. Apparently Jesus needed your mommy to be with Him,” Anna tried to explain. “Jesus must have needed her more than we do,” Anna tried to console the lad.
“But I miss my mommy,” said Eric with tears in his eyes.
“We all do, Son,” Jacob commented when he heard the conversation from his recliner in the living room. “We just have to believe Jesus knows what’s best. He must have needed your mommy up in heaven with Him; otherwise, she would still be her with us,” Jacob continued.
“I guess,” said the boy with uncertainty in his voice.
“We can be a family,” said Anna. “Grandpa and I love you and Suzi very much,” she continued. “I know you’re hurting inside now, but with time, we will get better,” Anna continued, trying to encourage the lad.
“You bet it will!” said grandpa from his chair in the living room.
“What about this gingerbread boy?” asked Eric.
Grandma reached into the bowl, picked up the small remaining piece of cookie dough, and with it, mended the arm of the little gingerbread boy so well that Eric couldn’t even tell it was broken. It looked brand new!
“You fixed it!” Eric explained. Then he smiled slightly at his grandmother with his big blue eyes.
“And God can fix our family too,” said Suzi with a glimmer of hope in her eyes. Then she carefully picked up the mended gingerbread boy, put him on the cookie sheet with the last batch of cookies, and put them in the oven.
When the timer went off and the cookies came out of the oven, Suzi gave the mended gingerbread boy to her little brother and said, “Just as grandma fixed this little gingerbread boy, God can fix our family. We just need to give Him the time to do it. Then, like the broken cookie, you won’t be able to tell our family was broken. We’ll see mommy again when we get to heaven. Perhaps you can even tell her about your broken cookie.”
Eric quickly took the little gingerbread man and carefully put him in a safe place in his treasure box. “Now when I see it,” he thought to himself, “I will remember that God can fix our family!”
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