In my house, the word gingerbread is a verb, not a noun.  Since I can remember, my Mother would, every year at Christmas time, make a gingerbread house.  Her completely edible gingerbread house, although rather simple in its design, was a true innovative masterpiece in engineering.
The construction of the house took two days, with the mixing of the gingerbread dough, chilling of it, baking and then cutting out the pieces on the first day, and, then, after everything had an evening to settle and harden, the second day consisting of decorating and constructing.   Due to the nature of the process, my Mother never had to ask us for our assistance or schedule our time to help because the unbelievably amazing baking gingerbread aromas filled the house and brought all of us into the kitchen for tasting the very few pieces that were left over. We knew that the next day would bring the happy occasion of decorating our house.
My Mother’s gingerbread house never changed in its structure and overall look, but the choice of hard candy placement on the roof and side walls, would be completely left up to us kids, and with four walls and two roof pieces. That meant a complete wall of our own and ½ a roof to adorn, each.  After the decorating, my Mother would refill her pastry bag with her frosting “glue,” gather some toothpicks and wooden popsicle sticks, saved from the summer for this very purpose, and make sure that she had us back away from the table and be in the ready stance for assistance in securing a sagging roof or toppling chimney.
If all went well, and, after holding up gently for five (or 10 longggg) minutes for a roof to dry, only a couple of well snapped popsicle sticks and one toothpick were needed to secure the drying house, and the Year’s Christmas Masterpiece was complete. It was proudly displayed on the middle of our dining room table until New Year’s Day arrived, wherein, we could break it apart and eat it!
For me, it was the most important holiday tradition that I made sure I carried on with my own family.
Although I ultimately ended up constructing more varied and slightly intricate gingerbread houses (all of Hogwarts Village one year), I still maintained the tradition of cutting and baking the pieces one day and then constructing and decorating the next.
Over the years I have embraced a few time saving tips, like using a gingerbread cake mix for my dough, but, with these mixes now scarce to find in stores, what with all of the pre-made gingerbread house kits available  (ahhhh—the Instant Success world we now live in…), I am now back to making my own dough from scratch, which truth be told, only makes the aroma now emanating and lingering in my own kitchen, that much better. I still have the old stencils and recipes my Mother passed on to me and, soon, I plan to pass them along to my daughter, who is getting married in a few short days, with the hope that, when she has her own children, she will construct her own HOMEMADE Gingerbread House.
Tradition! Tradition!
Kathy Naumann, possessor of NATURALLY curly hair and the understanding that you can’t control everything!


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