It’s holiday season and the clock is ticking closer to my favorite holiday of them all—Christmas!
When it comes to Christmas, I’m a sucker for it all—decorations, gift buying and giving, singing carols, gatherings with family and friends, and the baking. Especially the baking!
Years ago when my girls were younger I started a tradition of baking and decorating a gingerbread house together. It’s not a simple process, more like a several-day process.
It all started when I came across a how-to bake a gingerbread house from scratch VHS tape (yes, I’m dating myself here) called the Magic of Gingerbread Houses.
From whipping up the cookie batter, to cutting out individual pieces by hand, to decorating the sides and allowing them to dry overnight, to assembling the house, and finally to decorating the roof and the surrounding yard/landscape.
It’s not a one afternoon process. But, we would start the Christmas carols playing and enjoy the family time. And once we were done, we had managed to create one of my favorite decorations in our house. A beautiful masterpiece (in our eyes anyway) that made the house smell sugary sweet!
The first few years we made one house together. Eventually my girls decided they’d like to try making their own and we created a three-house neighborhood. Soon we were moving on to a city center with a beauty salon, two-story dance studio and the mayor’s mansion. One year we made a country house with an airplane hangar and runway in its backyard.
Another year, being the diehard Chicago Cubs fans that we are, we created Wrigley Field with mini gummi bears as Cubs fans and a signature bar with rooftop seating across the street.
Another year we decided to try our hand at creating some of our favorite places to visit. My youngest built a large two story house in Santorini with a sandy (brown sugar) beach leading to the ocean that connected it to the Roman Coliseum and a pavilion in Guell Park in Barcelona.
Once all my daughters left for college I figured the tradition might not last. Their time at home was now limited. Life changes happen. But that first year they were all off to school, when December rolled around my girls started sending texts asking about designs or they scoured the internet and swapped house plans with each other to see which they’d like to try.
So I bought the supplies and once they arrived home, we started the music and got to work– together. In recent years we’ve created gingerbread neighborhoods like this one.
and this one
And three separate houses displayed together or separated around the house.
Last year, with my oldest home for only a short time and my middle daughter volunteering out of the country throughout the holidays, once again I was dismayed to think that we may not take the time for gingerbread houses.
Thankfully, my youngest saved the day by deciding she wanted to be adventurous and create the Eiffel Tower. She found a template on-line, then I used my stellar math skills (read that as: the most math this English major had used a looooong time) to double the measurements so I could cut out our template. It was simple, yet elegant and served as the perfect table centerpiece on our lazy-susan.
Yes, our home is sprinkled with other decorations—both inside and out. But when it comes down to it, some of my absolute favorite decorations are the houses we’ve created together. It reminds me of the power of tradition to bond families and people. Of the time my girls and I have spent together over the years. The fun we’ve had breaking the houses on New Year’s Eve and enjoying the fruits of our labor.
But more important than those gingerbread houses are the memories we’ve made—as always, together.
What about you… Is there a decoration you have that for whatever reason is your favorite? I’d love to hear what it might be.
I wish you the most blessed, joyous holiday season!!!