December 11, 2012

Tradition and Gingerbread

Tommy and I crossed off thing #1 from my December bucket list last night.  Todd had to work late so we tackled a gingerbread house together.

The DIY houses that come in pre-made packages with specific how-to instructions are my most favorite kind.  I don't know how people make these things any other way.  I've never been brave enough to attempt a homemade one from gingerbread molds and then doing my own royal icing and all that fancy jazz.  I may be crafty, but even I have my limits.
Of course, Tommy manned the candy.  Which is the very best part of gingerbread house making.
I lost track of how many M&M's he consumed while decorating it.  He kept saying, "Wanna see a cool magic trick mom?  I can make this M&M disappear!"  And he would eat it and then proclaim, "Tada!!!" He's a genius magician I tell you.
I've been thinking about traditions and how important they feel this time of year.  How you do what you've always done because it brings a certain amount of comfort and familiarity when  you and your world are constantly changing.  They are the things you can count on when nothing else is predictable. 

I sent out a Facebook invite to my family yesterday inviting them all over for sugar cookie decorating next week.  Something I grew up doing every year with my mom and dad and brother.  And since my mom passed away and I've grown up, it's a tradition that I've kept alive.  It's important to me because it's how I remember her during the holidays.  And it's important to me because I enjoy it and the closeness I experience with sisters and cousins and parents.  It's changed and it looks different almost every year, but regardless, I make them.  I put the dough together and let it chill.  I roll them out and cut out Christmasy shapes and bake them up, so that later they can be topped with sweet icing and sprinkles. 

Perhaps every year I wonder if everyone else will have grown out of this old tradition.  If decorating cookies isn't fun anymore or if they've lost interest.  Because aren't those things only fun when you're little?  But, one by one, each family member said yes and left silly comments about cookie decorating nights past, and that feeling that comes with tradition warmed me over and settled in my heart. 

Perhaps gingerbread house-making will become a tradition with me and my boys too.  I hope so.  It's a fun and creative and you can't beat making memories like my silly magician boy left me with last night.
He was proud of our work.  Of course I helped some.  For some reason, I get most excited about creating the pathway to the house itself.  I'm sure a year will come where Tommy will put it together and decorate it all on his own with little help from me.  It's fun to imagine those times.  Mixed in with a little brother who wants in on the action too of course.

After it was completed, Tommy basically asked, "Well, what do we do with it now?"  And that was a good question, because you know what, I don't really know!  I told him we just make it to have something fun to look at and on Christmas day he can eat the candy off of it.  He wasn't satisfied with this answer and told me that it needed more work and perhaps we should make it bigger.
Sadly, all fun things have to come to an end.  The tears came from wanting to eat more candy and mean ol' mommy put it all away.
As our family grows and we build our own unique traditions together, I hope my boys will get that feeling that is there in your heart at Christmas.  That comforting, familiar, sentimental feeling that comes with gingerbread houses and sugar cookies and putting ornaments on the tree and hearing Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas" and every other thing that we will have always done together this time of year.

For now though, my son is three is the other has yet to arrive.  And the traditions I'm building and memories I'm making are mostly for me to ponder and remember and treasure in my heart for always.


  1. I love this. That's what Christmas is all about, making memories and remembering. Thanks for sharing.

  2. so sweet...I just love Christmas traditions and as Elyse gets older & as our family hopefully someday gets a bit bigger, I can't wait to see all the traditions we have...some old & some new!

  3. Your gingerbread house turned out great! And I agree...the preassembled ones are the way to go! Maybe one day I'll be adventurous and make it from scratch. Naaahh..