Gingerbread houses, I have a love/hate relationship with them, and unfortunately ‘tis the season when stores are full of displays of gingerbread kits. Therefore ‘tis the season of children begging to make gingerbread houses, well at least in my house that’s what’s happening now. I have trouble even thinking the words gingerbread house without several expletives joining in on the phrase.
For years, I had a romantic notion of building beautiful gingerbread houses, whole villages even. I would save articles out of the newspaper on how to make your own gingerbread house templates and watch specials on the Food Network showcasing people’s gingerbread creations. Fast forward a few years and I have a Pinterest board filled with gingerbread houses – traditional seasonal ones, spooky Halloween ones, DIY graham cracker ones, etc. This is my love of gingerbread houses and the beauty they can be.
My hatred however comes in my execution of a gingerbread house. Kits with your kids are a great idea, they simplify things so much, and are akin to water torture to me. Of course, if I began from scratch, it would be so, so, so much worse. Who’s with me? We have had some okay houses built by my children, well started by my children, and finished by yours truly, because let’s face it, very few kids have the attention span to really build a whole gingerbread house. We have also had some epic fails of gingerbread houses, gingerbread trains, etc. I have sacrificed canned goods from the pantry to stand some house up, others have gone the way of the Tower of Pisa, many a house has ended up in the garbage in a frustrated heap, and still I wonder why I torture myself with this holiday tradition. Why? I’m not even German, where the tradition of gingerbread houses and Christmas began. Again, I ask why?
This year a girlfriend, far more ambitious, talented, and Pinterest crazed than me hosted a gingerbread house party. Amazing idea. First of all, she served alcohol – my orange cranberry mimosa was wonderful. Second of all, because all the kids were doing it together the whining minimized by both kids and adults alike. I’ve had some epic meltdowns during gingerbread house making; I’m certainly not proud of them but I can admit they’ve happened. Epic meltdowns. Swearing. Crying. Whining. Not pretty at all. Most of the kids didn’t finish their houses, most of the moms didn’t finish their houses either, some made more of an effort than others, but we all struggled together. A few people, kids, and adults, clearly demonstrated they possess a gingerbread house making gene that made their process seem so much easier than everyone else and their finished products amazing. I’m still waiting for that gene to display itself in me, no such luck yet.
Holidays are often a time we try to do too much, take on too much, stress, and become emotional. Traditions while providing comfort and continuity with the past, often are a cause of much of these stresses and emotions. This season please remember none of us has to do it all for Christmas to be magical. No one has to live in that Gingerbread house, it does not matter if it fails in epic proportions. As I stressed this year, I remind myself, the gingerbread house isn’t important. Breathe deep and enjoy your holiday traditions.