Monday, December 6, 2010

Gingerbread Houses: A Tradition Not to Let Slip

This week we continued a family tradition that we started when the kids were very young. Actually, I am unfairly taking credit for this. This is a tradition my husband brought to our family. We buy a basic gingerbread house kit (I suppose we could take this to the next level and make our own gingerbread, but the point of this is a holiday memory not holiday stress) and some extra decorations (i.e. shredded wheat, Necco candy, gum drops). Depending on the kit, we may make additional “frosting” with confectioner’s sugar and water. We also find it helpful to have a few canned goods to hold the house in place while the frosting dries. And then one night, we pull everything out and go at it. In our family, usually that means the kids and Dad do it. But this year, we brought the kit to visit our foster son. Z has been moved to residential living due to his needs, but we continue to see him and love him. This was an excellent project for all of us. Although clearly our children are getting a little older because this year’s house was resplendent with the traditional gingerbread men, gumdrops, and icing icicles but it also had a peppermint stick cannon, a gumdrop dragon, and a gumdrop alligator.

This tradition has offered me one of my all time “perfect” memories. Several years ago, the kids and my husband were making a house at the table and I was making Chex Mix in the kitchen. Christmas carols were playing in the background and the lights from the tree were twinkling. I remember pulling the Chex Mix from the stove and turning to put it on the counter. As I turned, I was filled with the feeling that this was it. This is what life is all about: perfect, simple, joyful.

I remember making gingerbread men myself as a child. I remember those little silver ball cake decorations that now sport a warning, “Do NOT consume. For decorative purposes only”. And I still like to decorate gingerbread men if I have a large group of children, but gingerbread houses are the perfect holiday family activity.

Holiday memories are not made by the gifts we receive but by the time we spend together.

TEST: I challenge you to remember 10 gifts you received over the course of your life. Now try to think of 10 Christmas memories. Which list was easier to make?
One of my kids' memories might be: the year their mother cut a snowflake out of a papertowel.

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