Thursday, November 19, 2015

And That's A Good Thing

The fault rests squarely on Martha Stewart and her weekly television show. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was early November, and I was watching her on TV while trying to burp Baby Graham. Martha was showing all the different ways to make the holiday season full of "Good Things". I  like good things, I thought to myself.  She had my undivided attention. It was at this point Baby Graham finally decided to bestow upon me a burp that would have impressed a truck driver, so I put him back in the swing. As I sat there on the couch, Martha started talking about gingerbread houses and how it was "details like this that create warm family memories". I  like warm family memories, I thought to myself. I was all in.
Here's a picture of the first gingerbread house I ever made. I used 4 boxes of gingerbread mix, made my own pattern, cut out the dough, baked, cooled, and assembled it by myself- all while dodging 4 kiddos in my kitchen. I carefully piped it with royal icing and placed it on a platter with rock salt, just like Martha said, so it would look like it was "sitting in the snow". This house was to be my ultimate swan song. In over 10 years, this baby is the first and last time my joy of all things ginger was focused on just one house. 
Case in point. The following year, I decided to let the big kids make their own gingerbread houses. This time, I used 7 boxes of gingerbread mix (thank you Wal-Mart for buying in bulk!) and let each kiddo decide what shape house they wanted. Again, I made the patterns, cut out the dough, baked, assembled... well, you get the idea. The kids were focused and attentive. Okay, maybe 2 out of 3 were focused and attentive, but everything was going swimmingly until disaster struck. While moving the completed houses to the tall counter so everyone could see them, Reagan dropped his and the front wall broke off. Not good.
We just stood there staring at it for a few minutes, when my darling, keen witted daughter came to the rescue. Her eyes lit up and, putting her arm around him, she said, "Oh my gosh! Look, Reagan! Your gingerbread house is the perfect manger for Baby Jesus and Mary!" I could have kissed that girl- and I probably did. My little man went from heartbroken to busting his buttons in no time flat.
After we moved to Austin, we were lucky enough to have my brother, Ted, and his crew in town for Christmas. Here's a picture of the first year I roped them into making houses with us. I'm sure, by now, you're beginning to notice a distinct lack of self control on my part. This was the year I used 10 boxes of gingerbread mix. 
Can you tell whose is whose? You know what they say. More is always better when it comes to candy.
I eventually even dragged my sweet parents into my crazy gingerbread addiction. At this point, I'm up to 12 boxes of gingerbread mix. I convinced myself I wasn't out of control because I was limiting myself to only 6 house and two shapes- tall and skinny or short and fat. How's that for crazy logic?
As you can probably see, my red headed kid is all about anything gummy. Worms, fish, rings- it makes no difference to him. Just do me a favor and don't tell his orthodontist. There's only so much you can ask of a kid during Christmas time.
And speaking of the red headed kid, here's my crew from last year in all their decorating glory. To my ultimate dismay, the days got away from me this time around and, *gasp* I broke down and bought pre-made gingerbread houses. Listen, sometimes when the going gets rough, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I'm not saying I liked it, but no one else seemed upset.
I mean, look at those lovable faces. They don't seem to be scarred by my lack of time management skills. In fact, they look as cute as ever. This was the first year Graham (Version 1.0) decided to give out individual awards for each house. There was the "Most Likely To Be In A Selfie" Award, the "Best Use of Candy" Award, etc.  But my favorite award was the one that went to Reagan- the "Most Likely To Be Eaten By A Dog" Award. I'm pretty sure Martha would not be impressed, be that's what I call a warm family memory. 


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