“I love the story behind everything,” Souders said.
The east Cobb resident recalled that in 1956, her mother decided to start a tradition of having all of her family to Thanksgiving. For many years, three generations attended and now four generations (30-40 family members) enjoy Thanksgiving together.
“Momma did all the trimmings. All the food was home-baked. It was just wonderful,” she said.
As part of the tradition, Souders’ mother made gingerbread men — a time consuming task — with a special cookie cutter.
“When I married, I volunteered to take the gingerbread men, that part of it. For 46 years I’ve been making them,” said Souders, who is married to John. They have three grown children and five grandchildren.
Souders’ mother passed down the special cookie cutter to her.
“They wouldn’t taste the same if they weren’t made by this little cutter,” said Souders, owner of the gift line Tea Cup Traditions.
As soon as her children were old enough to stand on a chair, Souders involved them in the baking.
“They would begin to put the raisins on. That was there job. It was a family project to cook all these gingerbread men,” she explained.
Now that her children are grown, Souders makes the cookies before Thanksgiving with her friend, Mary Madeline Whittinghill. But she always saves enough dough to make two pans with her grandchildren from Birmingham, Ala., when they arrive.
“It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the gingerbread men. They start eating them as soon as they get here. Out of the 12-15 dozen, there aren’t any left. They’re gone,” Souders said.
“My youngest child and my youngest brother, that’s their favorite thing. They go in and take four or five at a time. That’s why I have to make so many of them,” Souders said, chuckling.
“Tradition creates memories. It gives you the generational tie. Being Southern you just like traditions anyway.”
1 cup (1 stick each) Margarine and Butter
1 cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
1 cup Molasses
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
5 cups Flour (White Lily)
1 ½ teaspoon Soda
1 Tablespoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
(Souders recommends chilling the dough overnight.)
Roll out on pastry cloth with small amounts of dough and lots of flour. Keep the rest of the dough in refrigerator or it can become very sticky. Don’t roll dough too thin.
Decorate with raisin eyes, mouth and three buttons.
375 for 6 to 8 minutes
Just until edges begin to brown and they smell yummy. Remove from pan immediately.
Makes 6 dozen