Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Gingerbread House: Christmas Memory Maker

Originally uploaded by Child of the 60’s

I always wanted to make a gingerbread house and seven (7) years ago the timing was perfect to share this experience with my family.  Almost everyone in my family was visiting for the holidays — my two brothers, one sister-in-law, four nieces and nephews, and my father.

Borrowing a book from the library on how to make gingerbread houses, I picked out a simple design and prepared as much as I could ahead of time. I transferred patterns onto brown paper bags, cooked the cut-out gingerbread dough, made the special icing and purchased all the fun candies that I could find to make it a joyous experience of experimentation and fantasy.

The experience was so fun. Everyone had a great time. The adults each had their own ideas and ended up taking different sides of the main gingerbread house structure to express their uniqueness. The front looked like a rustic straw house from the Three Little Pigs with the spoon-size shredded wheat for bricks. Another side had shrubbery of lollypop sticks. The roof was tiled with layers of round candy.

The kids, whose ages ranged from 2-10 at the time, each worked on their own miniature houses that I made for them.

The photo above is the actual gingerbread house that we made. I still have it. It is very fragile and won’t last much longer. The roof in the back is caved in entirely. I was displaying it on the shelf above my kitchen cabinets. I would look up at it every day and all the memories of that precious day would come back to me and fill me with warmth and love.

Recently, I have been on a decluttering kick and I removed the gingerbread house from its perch. I was going to throw it out.  But I can’t.  Its magic keeps transporting me to another time — a time when our family was together, happy, and enjoying the moment.  Money comes and goes but memories are with you forever.  To me, my gingerbread house is priceless. 

It may not be the Christmas season yet, but it is never too early to start planning.  Next time you are out shopping, take a detour into the candy section.  You’ll be glad you did.

  1. Mary,
    Are those Neccos on the roof?
    I’ve only seen gingerbread houses in magazines or TVs. What keeps it from getting moldy?

  2. Neccos. Yes. Thanks for remembering the name for me. I had not bought them since I was a kid.

    I never had a mold problem. The gingerbread dough hardens very quickly after you take it out of the oven, so if you have to trim the sides to restore the original shape from the pattern, do it quickly. After that, it is very dry. Mold needs moisture to grow.

    Interestingly enough, even today, seven years later, the structure still smells like gingerbread when you put your nose down close to it. Perhaps the ginger spice plays a role in its preservation.

    I’ve seen both high-end gingerbread houses that are works of art and home-made varieties made using graham crackers as the foundation. The former are inspiring and the latter give you the confidence to try it yourself.

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