Catching My Gingerbread Man
by Dee Stewart
Advent Scriptural Reference for December 12, 2008
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. –Psalms 1:1
I placed my last Gingerbread Donovan in the basket when the phone rang.
I checked my watch. 6:30pm. The party started in thirty minutes. I didn’t have time to drive, let alone talk. Yet I checked the caller ID anyway. Thank Goodness I did. It was Mama and she would have had a hot fit if I didn’t pick up.
I answered. "Mom, let me call you from my cell phone. Have to get to the party."
"No need. Just checking to see if Donovan had picked you up already."
"Mama.." I sighed. "We’ve been through this before. I’m driving myself."
She scoffed. "For something so important he should at least pick you up tonight. He never escorts you anywhere."
"Mom, that’s not true. But today there’s no time, I had to run home and bake the cookies."
"What cookies?" Mama paused. "Please tell me you did not make that man those gingerbread cookies again.Lord, what you do for that man…"
I huffed. "Ma, don’t ruin my night."
"Kelli, let me tell you something. I want the best for you, and that includes being with someone who treasures you just as much as they treasure the cookies you make and the free publicity you provide. I want you to see you are more precious…." She paused. "I wished I were there."
"But you’re in London, by your choosing might I add." I chuckled.
Our fights never last longer than a hot second. I’m too soft she often said.
" I know you care about me. You love me. I get it, but listen. I figured I’d give God a break. After all, I asked for a great man last Christmas, and this year I have one. Why should I ask for more?"
"Honey, you don’t ask God to give you a man when He’s here loving you as He promised all this time. I have never taught you that."
"Mama…" I rolled my eyes and shook my head. She belonged to a different generation. There was no need to argue the point any further. "I ‘ll call you after the party."
Bishop Stevens’ Family Christmas Dinner was always held at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle. For years I had helped in the event planning of the event, but never was invited to attend until this year after Donovan and I became "special friends."
Donovan’s single ministry classes had taught us that dating wasn’t a Christian concept and that we should follow a different courtship path. I agreed and I’m so glad that I did. It felt good to no longer waste my time with men who had no intention to marry me.
I turned into the Blue Willow parking lot and awed in wonder. The beautiful golden brick, Greek Revival converted mansion dazzled against the holiday lights and blossoming poinsettias that blanketed that garden walk.Immediately I had decided that this would be where we would host our wedding rehearsal dinner. I’m sure in the spring this place would look like a Georgia Eden filled with white magnolias, dogwoods and azaleas.
In fact, these colors mirrored my handpainted Gingerbread man cookies. I looked down at them and smiled. I had made Donovan those cookes this time last year, and according to him he knew I was a perfect woman the moment he tasted them. Although I knew The Blue Willow had exceptional desserts I wanted to surprise him with a memento of our first meeting. Perhaps these cookies would become a tradition in our home and for our children.
God I never knew I would be this happy, that my future would expand this brilliant and wide. Thank you.
I stepped out of my car and took a step toward my new and bigger life.
A waitstaff attendant saw me coming toward the main entrance, so he opened the door for me. I thanked him. He lingered at the entrance door for a while. I turned to see what was the matter.
"Are you okay?" I asked him.
He nodded and smiled. His smile somehow reminded of Donovan’s. "I’m fine, just admiring a beautiful woman that’s all."
I smiled back. "Thank you, but I’m spoken for."
"As you should be." He nodded. "Have a Merry Christmas."
I waved, flattered by his interest. I guessed the old-wives-tales were true. Once you’re spoken for men come out the woodwork.
I giggled and walked through the threshold with my basket in hand. Inside this place was magical. It smelled yummy like I would imagine Paula Dean’s studio smelled on Food Network: ginger, chocolate, roasted turkey…hmmm. A huge white Christmas tree stood in the foyer. Gold angels and ribbons and ornaments were placed extravagantly, yet balanced over it. I checked my watch again. I was five minutes early. Great. The worst thing I could do was be late to my own proposal party.
A hostess returned to her station and greeted me. I told her what party I belonged to.
She smiled so big. as if she knew me "Hello, Kelli. Everyone’s waiting for you."
I gasped. "I’m late?"
"The Stephens are always early. Don’t worry, sugar.," she said. "The best is always last."
She escorted me upstairs to the private dining area. I recited her words of wisdom in my head. The best is always last. The best is always last until the bubbles in my stomach subsided.
Before I could enter the dining room my girlfriend, Tanika met me at the top of the staircase. Tanika was the Bishop’s personal assistant and my matchmaker.
"What’s up, girl?" I hugged her with one arm, still securing the gingerbread men in the other.
"The question you should be asking is who’s that girl." She stepped away and turned her head in the direction of Donovan standing near the dessert table with his arm wrapped around some woman we had never met.
I shook my head. "You’re the publicist. Don’t you know who’s on the guestlist?"
"Her name is Yasmine Taylor. She’s not related. A transplant from New Orleans. Donovan invited her at the last minute without telling you I’m sure."
"Stop." I flicked the matter off with my hand. "It’s not like that. You know him."
She scoffed. "I do know him and you better get over there and take care of your man."
"You’re right and I have the perfect thing." I reached down and marveled over my cookies again. "Donovan asked me to bring these tonight."
"Then get on over there and give him what he wants." She slapped my back.
Donovan saw me approach and smiled. His smile could light this entire mansion. God gave him warm brown eyes that seemed to beckon me to want to bear him many children and spend lazy rainy days snuggled in his arms. My knees grew weak the closer he came toward me.
He looked down at the basket, then up at me. The way he looked at me always sent a heated rush threw my entire body. I had to breathe through my mouth just to calm myself down.
"Are these for me?" he asked.
"Yes, like you wanted."
He smiled wider. "You are a treasure, Kelli Monroe."
I thought I gushed and blushed at the same time. "Thank you."
The strange woman walked up to us. She placed her slender arm over Donovan’s shoulder. "Are these what I think they are?"
He turned to her, grinned, then returned his attention to me. I observed the woman. Now she was beautiful, the kind of beautiful most men would describe easily with their eyes closed. My beauty seemed to always be tied to a task I had accomplished or a selfless act I had done. I studied her some more and determined that she must be a cousin Tanika forgot about. I gulped. I hoped.
Donovan looked at me, still in that way that had me hypnotized. "Kelli, I would like you to meet, Gabrielle…my fiancee."
She flung her slender hands and the engagement ring that we had picked out and held on my own finger four weeks ago when Donovan had asked me to accompany him to Jared’s Jewelers.
Then my world changed. It grew very small. The basket fell. It grew dark. The next thing I knew I was in my car crying, more like screaming into my steering wheel..
God I never knew I would be this sad. I have no future. I am a fool Why did you let this happen to me?
Someone tapped my car window. "Are you okay?"
I kept my face lowered on the steering wheel and shouted. "No, leave me alone." The last thing I needed was a Tanika I-Told-You-So.
"How about we take these men for a walk?" The voice grew stronger. It was a man’s voice, a familiar man’s voice.
I peaked. It was the waitstaff guy. He was dressed in a suit this time and held my basket of Gingerbread men in his hand.
I rolled my driver’s side window down. "What are you doing with those?"
"What do you think? I want to eat them with you. Get out the car."
"Ttt…" I scoffed. "I don’t know you."
"But you know my brother, Donovan. Right?"
We took a stroll past the Inn toward a local pizza parlor in the shopping plaza in the back.
"I hate to beat around the bush but um…what happened in there?"
I mumbled. "I’m not telling you."
"Because I don’t know what I’m doing and definitely not why I am talking to a stranger. I know all of the Stephens, except…" I stopped. "The missionary, Jason?"
"Is that what they call me now?" He smiled.
"You’re not a missionary?"
"Tonight I’m whatever you need me to be."
"I need to know why Donovan lied to me."
"You don’t need to know that. You want to know that. Try again."
I stopped. "Excuse me? I thought you were here to cheer me up."
We were a few paces in front of the pizza parlor now.
"Nope." He opened the door. "This Pizza will cheer up, I’m gonna tell you your truth, so you can go back in there and hold your head up high."
"That’s not what I need." I shook my head and chuckled.That is exactly what I needed. "What if I don’t want to go back?"
"You have to."
"Because you’re my guest. Did you read the guest list?"
We sat in the back in a dim lit booth in Pizza Palace. We could see the Blue Willow perfectly from there. I saw clearly that the party was going on without me. I saw clearly that the engagement party wasn’t for me.
I sipped a Cola from a red plastic cup. "Wow I hadn’t seen cups like these in a long time."
"No Tragic." I slumped backward. "How could I have been so stupid?"
"Easy." He picked up a slice of pizza and extended it toward me to eat.
If I wasn’t crazy out of my mind I wouldn’t have given this guy the time of day, let alone allow him to feed me in a public place. But I was feeling all over the place and needed someone to pick me up. I couldn’t call my Mom or look Tanika in the eyes right now. I wondered why she hadn’t run out to get me.
"Why easy?" I took a bite.
"It’s simple. You replaced God’s promise to you with a desire you wanted to fulfill."
"A desire to marry to a good godly man what’s wrong with that?"
"There’s nothing wrong with that, but allowing that desire to turn into an unquenchable hunger to have a man that looks the part is wrong. Just as wrong as you and I believe that these Gingerbread men are real."
I scoffed again. "You’re crazy,"
"No, I’m not. If you take some time to think back on this past year with Mr. Gingerbread Man, you will realize that you cooked him up, painted sweet nothings all over him, and made him what you wanted him to be."
"I did do that."I lowered my head on the table and sobbed. "My mom tried to warn me. My friend did, too. I…I wanted to believe that God had answered my prayers, because he looked like that man I thought I was supposed to be with."
He placed his hand on my shoulder. "Any man that would make a gorgeous woman bake cookies for his too skinny girlfriend isn’t the man you deserve."
I looked up. "You’re discrediting your brother."
"I’m telling you the truth." He smiled. "Now are you ready to go back so I’ll introduce you as my fiancee."
I laughed. "We’ve never been on a date and I don’t know you."
He took my hand. "We have years to figure that out."
"Maybe, but I’m no Gingerbread Man either and I would be honored to fulfill God’s promise to you."
I took his hand and we left together.
Now don’t be stupid. Of course I didn’t let him call me his fiancee at the dinner, but I did take him home to meet Mamma for Christmas this year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dee Stewart is a bookseller, multimedia journalist, novelist, publicist and now talk show host. She is also inspirational book reviewer for Romantic Times Magazine, Atlanta Satellite Bookseller for The Mocha Bookstores, and owner of Christian Fiction Blog. Her writings have appeared in: Spirit Led Woman, Gospel Today, Advanced Christian Writer, Atlanta Christian Family, Mosaic Literary, Precious Times, Vertical Fix just a few. In 2009, she will begin hosting book marketing coaching sessions. Follow her on Twitter at DeeGospel. Or visit her site at www.deestewart.com.