There once was a couple who lived in a cottage in the woods. They longed to have a child but were unable, and so they consulted the local wisewoman who lived in a hole in the old oak tree.
The wisewoman told them what to do in order to have a child of their own. She provided a list of instructions, ingredients to gather, and a ritual to perform by the light of the next full moon.
The couple paid the wisewoman with food and hurried home to their cottage to wait for the night to fall.
They divided the list of ingredients between them and set out to acquire them. An hour later they met up and pooled their acquisitions. They read and re-read the instructions and followed them to the letter, as the moonlight poured in through the kitchen window, illuminating their arcane task.
By dawn, it was done. The couple had dozed at the kitchen table and awoke to hear a knocking coming from inside the oven. Wiping flour from their cheeks and noses, the couple gazed at each other in amazement. Secretly, neither of them had believed the wisewoman’s words. This can’t possibly work, they had both thought in their hearts, but now, here it was, their very own child, demanding to be released from the womb, the oven in which he had been baked.
Out he sprang, their child of gingerbread. They hugged him and inhaled his sweet smell. We shall always love you, they told him, and care for you and protect you, and no harm shall ever befall you.
The years passed and the time came for the couple to send their gingerbread son into the village to attend school. The child wept: he did not want to go. I am not like the other children, he sobbed. They will sneer, they will call me names, and they will hurt me.
His parents tried to assure him that he would come to no harm. The other children might be curious but they would soon adjust and accept him as the charming, funny, generous boy his parents knew him to be.
Off he went, with his new satchel over his shoulder and a polished apple in his hand to give to his new teacher.
All day the couple waited for their son to come home.
When he did, he was in a terrible state.
I am never going back there, he vowed, spurning all attempts to comfort him.
We can bake you a new arm, they told him. We can make you new buttons of icing. We can rebuild you as good as new. But we must report this bullying to the head teacher. No child should suffer this treatment just because he is made of gingerbread.
The boy stopped sobbing and stared at his parents.
That’s not the problem, he sniffed. Nobody cares what colour my skin is or what it’s made of.
The couple frowned at each other and held hands. Then what, they asked, is the problem?
The gingerbread boy looked at the floor. He hardly had the heart to tell them.
It’s because I’ve got two dads, he said.