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  • Traci Kanaan

Life Lessons Learned from a $5 Big Lots Box of Ninja Bread


Doug and I were shopping at Big Lots, and came across this $5 Box of Ninja Bread. We both started laughing. Immediately - I was transported back to our first Christmas together in 2018.


My boyfriend Doug worked at Disney for 25 years, and it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about Disney. Our first Christmas together back in 2018, we headed to Disney so he could show me where he used to work. No theme parks; just the nickel tour of hotels and Downtown Disney / Downtown Springs hopping. One of the hotels we stopped at was The Grand Floridian, which boasts an over the top Ginger Bread house that’s 14 feet tall. To make it - took 1050 pounds of honey, 800 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of chocolate, 600 pounds of powdered sugar, 140 pints of egg whites, and 35 pounds of spices. The Disney crew used these ingredients to make 5000 individual gingerbread shingles, and the team spends over 400 hours baking the gingerbread, and then 160 hours constructing and decorating the gingerbread house. I knew gingerbread was a holiday tradition, but dang! I’m pretty sure I never gave it this much thought.


I remembered reading as a child, the tale of a woman who bakes a gingerbread man, who leaps off her baking sheet and runs away. The woman chases him, but is unable to catch him. The gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals, while taunting them with the phrase, “I’ve run away from a little old woman, a little old man, and I can run away from you, I can!” The tale ends with a fox catching and eating the gingerbread man. While he’s being devoured, he cries "I'm quarter gone...I'm half gone...I'm three-quarters gone...I'm all gone!"


I now started thinking about how gingerbread men (women) have continued to show up through out my life. The game pieces in CandyLand are gingerbread boys and girls. The Gingerbread Men were featured in The Muppet Show. And of course there’s another reincarnation of “Gingy” in the movie, Shrek.


I bought the box. For $5, I get 4 cookie cutters of gingerbread men in ninja poses. The ginger bread mix, icing, and sprinkles (not to mention I can eat this when I’m done) was a fabulous bonus.


While I was making my ninja bread yesterday, I started thinking why this silly Ninja Ginger Bread spoke to me. Was it the word play? Ginger / Ginja / Ninja. Yes, that’s clever and I dig that. Was it the parody of gingerbread that I loved so much? After all, I earned as a musical comedian known as The Princess of Parodies for 18 years, taking real songs and twisting the words to them, similar to Weird Al Yankovic. Yes - I liked all of this, but there was something deeper.


I looked at the little expressions of the ninja bread men. This box of Ninja Bread offers a traditional holiday flavor with a 2020 twist on the bitterness, aggravation, and stress many of us feel at how are lives have changed. At the end of 2019, many of us were happy gingerbread men and women looking forward to continuing building our gingerbread lives. Covid changed that, and drastically for many. And now? Our gingerbread selves have changed. A lot.


Some people were able to just put a mask on their Gingerbread Man/Woman and go about their lives. Others had to take their dough and create a new shape. Others had to scrap their dough altogether and start with a new recipe.


Take a moment and imagine that if you were a Gingerbread cookie, how would look a year ago? And now, take another moment, and imagine how your Gingerbread cookie would look today. What did you notice? What physical changes did you notice? How did you look? Was your cookie a little “bigger?” Did you taste the same? Were you more or less decorated? Did you have to change a few ingredients in your recipe because some of the sweetness you used to have is gone?


And now, take a moment. How would you like your Gingerbread Man/Woman to look next year?


Using a metaphor to examine where we were vs who we are now is a great way to explore your past and present without being overly critical. It forces you to step out of your skin and look at yourself objectively.


As we end 2020, turn your thoughts from The Gingerbread you are now, to The Gingerbread you want to be. Align your thoughts with your higher Gingerbread self.


As for me? I’m going to eat everyone of my Ninja bread cookies with a smile on my face, because I envision my 2021 to be a kick-ass year!


By the way, here's how my Ninja Bread turned out. Nailed it!



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