Ginger Cookies | A Story of Letting Go


Cloistered Away | Ginger CookiesCloistered Away | Ginger Cookies

I look forward to this season every year, when the home twinkles and the hearth glows, when the kitchen smells of spices and baked goods or a simmering pot on the stove, when the children and I begin afternoon tea with Advent read-aloud and crafts, when we thoughtfully plan out our gifts to make or purchase for dear and near ones. And yet this particular holiday season has been different. I have been away from my home far more than I have been in it. I actually counted the days yesterday and discovered six precious days at home in December. My heart sunk a bit. I don’t regret my days away, as they were meaningful and necessary in their own manner, even when they were unexpected. But without recognizing it, I have found myself chasing home, chasing Christmas this year. I have found myself rushed to do, do, do, to somehow catch up with time, compressing 20 days at home into six. But that pace begins to suffocate me after a while, it squelches the soul, the connection. Instead I am letting go of my own plans this year, releasing it even as I type this out. I’m releasing the unfinished baking and making, the imperfect gifts and lagging Advent readings, the crafts that were never begun, and all of those quiet afternoon cups of tea and read aloud. I’m releasing it all to embrace what we chose instead this year: to serve others in need, to offer my children a small opportunity with theater, to light candles and sing Christmas hymns and carols by candlelight most evenings, to enjoy many afternoons building forts in the woods with friends, to spend time with cousins and grandparents, even a great-grandparent during Christmas, to make wreaths and garlands for other homes instead of my own. Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Sometimes the imperfect, the unexpected events and happenings are what make it good (and also sometimes uncomfortable for me).
Cloistered Away | Ginger CookiesCloistered Away | Ginger Cookies

Earlier this week, Olive and I spent the day at my sister’s house, baking gingerbread cookies, writing Christmas cards, and crafting with them. As it happens, we also enjoyed tea––a new loose leaf blend gifted by a dear friend, in a new Japanese tea kettle and hand thrown cup gifted by TOAST. I plan to use both often this winter, ideally with these cookies and heaps of gratitude. Kristen’s ginger cookies are my favorite cookies. Period. I prefer them extra gingery, rolled in raw sugar, soft and chewy, slightly cooled from the oven. The fresh ginger is absolutely wonderful. Rolled out and left in the oven a tad longer, this recipe also creates a perfect dough for cookie cutting, too, and as we have it, perfectly imperfect cookie decorating also. In the event you’re looking for a small afternoon craft or something delicious to share with loved ones, here’s Kristen’s simple recipe for you, a salute to letting go and receiving the day or season at hand, perfectly imperfect. They are tasty and heart-warming in every season or month of the year.


  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap unsulphered molasses
  • 1 egg
  • raw sugar for topping

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl (or mixing stand), mix together the fresh ginger, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and egg. Add in the dry ingredients. Taste and check the ginger flavor of the batter. Add more if necessary (sometimes I add up to 1/2 cup of fresh ginger). Chill for at least one hour.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 ºF.

For softer, chewier cookies, roll a spoonful of dough between your hands into a ball. Roll the ball in the raw sugar and place on a baking tray 2″ apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

For cookie cutting, lightly flour a surface and rolling pin. Roll out the dough evenly, about 1/4″ – 1/8.” Bake for approximately 15 minutes for a crispier cookie, checking not to burn. Cool entirely before icing.


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk

Wisk together. It will have a thick, glue-like consistency. Pour into a piping bag to decorate.



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  1. I too can relate. My entire household is currently sick with colds. And I just know I will end up catching it in the next day or two. Needless to say, I’m desperately trying to stay positive, but overall….this Christmastime has just slipped through my fingers and I feel I’ve accomplished nothing, bought not-so-great gifts for my kids, didn’t make any time to help others in need, didn’t do most of the Christmas-y things I wanted to do….the list goes on. And I’m trying really hard to just let it go, be in the moment and just enjoy. It’s hard. Really hard. Sorry to be a downer!

    1. Author

      A few Christmases ago, our entire family (extended on both side) had the flu and strep. It was a miserable disappointment for all of us, even as we were together with white masks. So I really understand. I hope over the last few days you have found solace and joy right where you are. Sometimes there’s a gift hidden in the places we least expect it.

  2. i can also relate to this. it feels as if christmas is in such a hurry this year and we are away from home so much and at times i think, what happened to home for the holidays? anyways, this is so relatable and beautiful and so are you.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Kristen. Although the holidays with family are always sweet for us, we are considering staying home for the first time next year. This is the first year I may be sold on it. I hope your holiday was lovely.

  3. Bethany, I can relate to this post so much. There definitely have been times when the Advent season is one of busyness and other times, like this year, where it is perfectly slow. I think all we can do is embrace whatever the season brings for that year and to enjoy our time with our loved ones. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

    1. Author

      Tanya, I cannot agree more. I’m learning to control less and simply go with it. Merry Christmas to you.

  4. Bethany this is beautiful. It sounds like you are finding the balance between expectations and letting them go. It’s so refreshing isn’t it? It took me too long to find that balance but I’m finding it slowly. Advent is the time for quiet and for waiting in the stillness and darkness and letting go of the stress of the holidays to focus on the amazing gift we are about to receive. I have been finding this to be so much more peaceful than trying to squeeze everything in. Xoxo.

    1. Author

      Yes! I often expect too much of myself and others, and I am learning to let go more and more each season. I discovered so much peace and grace in the Advent season this year. Thank you. x

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