I don’t remember when it started, but for years now it is a family tradition for me and my two siblings to make a gingerbread house. It seems to me that my sister was already in college when this tradition began. We pull out the same metal tea-tray, cover it with aluminum foil, and glue the pre-made gingerbread house kit together with Betty Crocker vanilla icing. My mother buys far too much candy, giving us a ridiculous amount of options for decorating, and a subsequent sugar high that lasts until the end of January.
I’ve seen some amazing gingerbread houses. Some people build replicas of famous buildings with scale model precision. My in-laws built their own house one year and bought stacks of gum to use as white siding. It was beautiful and insane.
I can’t remember when we decided to jump over beautiful and dive right into insane. I think we used to start with good intentions, lining the roof with skittle christmas lights and using peppermints to make a sidewalk, but after a little munching the sugar hits your bloodstream and you’re hardly responsible for your own behavior. It’s hard not to snack on the goodies in front of you, especially when you know there’s going to be a bowl full of extras at the end, and honestly, I’ve always been a sucker for icing.
Usually the saga of the house centers around the gummy bears. The house is theirs and they are often protecting it from some sort of invasion. This year, we had both chocolate and vanilla icing. The chocolate side belonged to the Star Wars Angry Bird gummies, who were at war with the gummy bears. We built mini battle scenes with appropriate amounts of carnage.
Then we found the gummy worms.
They were the real problem. They answered to no one. They were wild, untamable, and loved to eat other gummy creatures. My brother molded a shoot of fondant for them to come curling up from under the earth. They are attacking the lines of marching bears and creating chaos within the chaos.
That’s the story. Death and destruction every year. Violent? Perhaps. Blame it on the sugar high and the fact that none of us ever grew up. We crack ourselves up every year though, which makes it, for me at least, an essential holiday tradition.
© Rachel Svendsen 2015