It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

By Kilah Watson, Marketing Coordinator for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds

Homemade gingerbread men representing everything from John Deere to Iowa State will resume their place on our family Christmas tree today, as they do every Friday after Thanksgiving.

My parents, Keith and Linda Hemesath, alwaysIMG_2626 fulfilled the family traditions as we were growing up to ensure a tradition that would last. Heading out to the Christmas tree farm and choosing the most beautiful tree is a tradition that has been instilled into my life and I hope to carry it on.

I grew up with four brothers, Mitch, Adam, Ryan and Garret. With three older brothers and one younger, I knew that everywhere I turned I would have someone to look up to, and then someone watching my actions on the other side. They continue to keep me on my toes, and never hesitate to poke fun when the opportunity arises!

We live up on a diversified crop and livestock farm, raising hogs and growing corn and soybeans, with the spontaneous dabble of interest in raising goats, bottle feeding calves and feeding out steers. It seems that we all had a time growing up where we took certain interest in specific animals. These animals would make it to the county fair where we would take pride in showing them.


From the left: Ryan, Kilah, Garret, Mitch & Adam

Coming from a farm is how I chose to to major in agriculture, and has also shaped me into the person I am, and continue to grow into. Mitch and Adam returned to the farm to work with my dad to continue the legacy that started 5 generations ago. Ryan also lives in Decorah, working as an Online Sales Coordinator and Garret is enjoying his last year in high school, while planning for his future at Iowa State. My mom is a loved first grade teacher at Decorah Schools, and enjoys nothing more than getting to know the students in her classroom and being their role model, teacher and friend.

This time of year is near and dear to my heart, because this is when some of my favorite memories take place. From making hundreds of Christmas cookies each year to preparing for a Christmas Eve dinner, it is always a busy time of cooking, baking and everything in between. My favorite tradition is painting the gingerbread men for our tree. We save these decorations from year to year, and still have some from 1997! We keep them until they break, or our dog decides to jump high enough on the tree to snag one!

As we start the official Christmas preparation and carrying on of our traditions, I hope you all do the same! I have included the cookie recipe we use for our gingerbread men below. Note, we only use these one the tree and we refrain from eating them! Give the recipe a shot and start painting some gingerbread men!

Gingerbread Men


2 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. shortening

2 eggs

1/2 c. molasses

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

4 c. unsifted flour


Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs, molasses and spices, mixing well. Mix in flour. Roll onto floured surface and use a cookie cutter to make gingerbread men then place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350º for 8 - 10 minutes.

Cool and let cookies dry out for 24 hours in open air. Paint gingerbread men and spray with sealer when completed to ensure long-lasting ornaments!