Jessie stood on a chair, a tattered plaid apron wrapped around her. Flour dusted the front of the apron, and there was a smudge of dough on her cheek. Her blonde hair hung in twin braids down her back, tied off with bright pink ribbons. The scents of cinnamon and ginger mingled together, dancing across her nose and warming her up inside. Christmas carols played lightly in the background.
“It smells good, doesn’t it, Grammy?” Jessie said, looking up at her grandmother who was carefully guiding a hot pan of gingerbread men out of the oven.
“Yes, Jessie, it does.” She set the pan on the counter.
“Can we eat them now?” Jessie leaned towards the pan, reaching a chubby hand out.
“Sorry, sweetie. We have to wait for them to cool. They’ll burn your mouth if you eat them right now. And you want to decorate them, right?”
“Yes!” Jessie crowed. “I want a gingerbread girl with a pink dress! And pink hair ribbons.” The four year old was in her princessy phase. Everything had to be pink.
“But Jessie, these are gingerbread men,” Grammy laughed.
“Not mine. Mine’s a gingerbread girl. And maybe a gingerbread kitty like the one Santa is going to bring me.” Jessie shook her head.
“Well, if you want a gingerbread girl, that’s what my girl is going to have. Lets wash your hands.” Grammy helped Jessie wash her hands in the kitchen sink.
“Know what, Grammy?”
“Christmas isn’t just about getting presents.” Jessie said, knowingly.
“No, it isn’t. What is Christmas really about? Can you tell me?” Grammy poured Jessie a glass of milk.
She furrowed her brow, thinking. “Christmas is when God gave his only forgotten son, Jesus.” Jessie began.
Grammy chuckled. “begotten, Jessie.“
“That’s what I said. Forgotten.”
A smile played across Grammy’s face. The way Jessie said things was adorable.
“Anyway, God gave Jesus and the angels told the shepherds who were washing their socks at night. The angels sang a really loud song. ‘Glory to God and peas on Earth” A milk mustache rimmed the little girl’s mouth and her eyes twinkled as she told her fractured version of the Christmas story. “Grammy, why was the angel worried about peas on earth?”
“Well, its not peas, like vegetables, Its peace, like no one arguing or being mad at each other.’ Grammy wiped a napkin across Jessie’s mouth.
“Oh. And the three kings came and brought presents to baby Jesus because he was God’s son. The end.” Jessie grinned. “Now can I have a cookie.”
“Persistence, thy name is Jessie,” Grammy mumbled as she agreed to give Jessie the cookie she wanted.
“Grammy?” Jessie said around a mouthful of cookie “I love Jesus. I’m glad its His birthday.”
“I am too, sweetie. And I’m glad you love Jesus. He loves you, too. Now, are you ready to decorate these cookies for the party tonight?”
The next morning, surrounded by her brothers and sisters Jessie opened a special gift. A furry marmalade colored head with blue eyes peeped out of the dark box.
“My Kitty!” Jessie yelled. The kitten dove under the couch, startled by the child’s exuberance.
Grammy helped her retrieve the kitten, and Jessie quietly held it on her lap, stroking the downy fur.
“What are you going to name your kitty?” one of her brothers asked.
“Jesus. Its His birthday and it’s the kitty’s birthday.” Jessie replied in her no nonsense tone.
Everyone laughed and the child looked bashful.
“Jessie,” Grammy said. “I’m not sure that you should name your kitty Jesus. See, your kitty is a girl. Maybe she would like a girl name.”
Jessie’s mouth formed an O.
“What about . . .” Grammy paused. “What about naming her Gingerbread? That way, you’ll always remember making cookies with Grammy.”
“Gingerbread. Okay. You like that, Gingerbread? C’mon. Lets go play!”
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