I have a Nativity cookie cutter set. I LOVE it. Every time I see it in the drawer it makes me smile. It brings back all the warm and happy holiday baking memories. But I don’t bake baby Jesus cookies.
The set makes the whole nativity scene. It makes the whole scene including camels, wise men, sheep (very cute when frosted and then rolled in toasted coconut flakes), Joseph, Mary, angels, and baby Jesus. It even has a cutter for making the walls of the creche.
When I first got the set, I made an elaborate set of nativity cookies using all the cutters (except the creche walls). I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe and very carefully decorated each one.
Baby Jesus got a crown of silver balls. Mary got a blue dress. I made lots and lots of sheep for the family to eat.
Then reality struck.
I had baked a baby Jesus cookie.
(Did you stumble over that phrase? I know I do. Every single time.)
I don’t know what you would have done. But my mind was filled with questions.
What was the proper way to handle the Holy Family?
I could rationally figure out what to do about Mary and Joseph. They’re people. There was nothing horribly creepy about eating them unless I thought about the fact that I was eating people.
Was it OK to eat Baby Jesus?
Even the question is weird. It creeps me out a little even TYPE it. We don’t eat babies! And eating Jesus is just… um… wait… hmmm…
Was he like a giant communion wafer?
Yes. I went there. I stood there and contemplated whether eating a baby Jesus cookie with a tiny cup of grape juice or communion wine would make things better or worse. I rejected the idea entirely.
Was throwing away the uneaten cookie worse or better than eating it?
If I couldn’t bring myself to eat the cookie (or allow anyone else to do so) then would I do with it? I imagined wrapping the cookie up in plastic and carefully preserving it in the freezer. That was even creepier.
If you did eat it, do you bite the head off first like we did with the sheep?
Yes, I bite the ears off a chocolate Easter bunny. I’m a top down kind of bunny eater.
Or was I over thinking things just a tiny bit.
That would be a big resounding YES.
But once I started thinking about it I couldn’t stop myself. If I hadn’t thought about it, I would have popped it in my mouth and eaten the delicious cookie goodness without a pause. But once I thought about it… it was just… weird.
So what happened to the cookie?
Before kids, my husband and I attended a small Episcopalian church for a few years. There was a platoon of women who happily baked communion bread for us each Sunday and attended to the altar. I remember asking one of the ladies what happened to any bread that was left over from Communion. She told me they fed it to the birds because they were God’s creatures.
Her words came back to me in that moment Jesus cookie angst. I remembered how calmly she had explained things and how right it felt for the Communion bread to be given to the birds.
So I gently crumbled the cookie and fed it to the birds.
It just felt right.
We still bake Nativity cookies. We just don’t bake baby Jesus.
(If you want to order your own, you can order a Nativity Cookie Cutter Bake Set using my Amazon link. There were several options but this is the one that includes free shipping with Prime. If you don’t have Prime they offer a 30 day free trial right now.)
Is baby Jesus missing in your home too?
In all of the busy holiday bustle, it’s easy to forget that this whole thing we call Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to lose track of the fact that Christmas is the world’s biggest birthday party.
This year, my kids actually noticed that we didn’t bake a baby Jesus cookie. It’s the first time they ever noticed. It lead the way to a great conversation about how we show honor to God, about how what’s in our hearts matters most, and about what all the Christmas traditions really mean. In a very real way, Jesus was more present in my kitchen that day than He ever would have been as a cookie.
This year, don’t miss out – make time to celebrate baby Jesus.
For more of my twisted holiday views, you might want to wander over to this post on Easter suckers. Pour a cup of coffee (or whatever) first. It’s a long read.