Tuesday, December 2, 2014

.... Who's Been Nibbling at my House?

A mini-sized one

For as long as I can remember, we have had gingerbread houses (Lebkuchenhaus) at Christmas time. Mom made them every year, only at Christmas, and they were a beautiful sight to behold. I know how Hansel and Gretel must have felt finding the Gingerbread House in the woods! Oh, how the aroma must have beckoned to them.

Each year just after Thanksgiving, Mom would begin her holiday baking. That always comprised of dozens of beautiful cookies that she would wrap to have on hand whenever guests would drop by during the Christmas season. But the one thing that I always looked forward to was the Gingerbread House. The smell of it baking and then the delicious aroma the decorated gingerbread house itself continued to generate for the next several weeks was intoxicating. The candies and handmade small cookies that decorated the house were so beautiful and delicate.

In those early years, we didn't help her decorate. She did it by herself, usually while we were at school, and then it was a gift to the family.  We would come home and ohhh and ahhh as we checked out all the little details that she'd incorporated.

A larger sized house not done being decorated

When I was a young adult, but before I had children, I continued the Gingerbread House making activity for my home.  Each year I would make them and have one for my home and then give others away to friends for Christmas gifts.

I still enjoyed everything about it, the baking, the decorating, the smell, and the nibbling at it several weeks later. I usually would just set it outside after Epiphany (January 6th) and let the birds, squirrels, bunnies, etc come and nibble away. I would pull the chocolates off it first and then place it where my golden retriever wouldn't find it.  (smiles)

Years later when I had children, the Gingerbread House tradition continued. We decorated them as a family. I also baked and assembled them for each of their classmates and they would decorate them during school and then take home to their families.  Each year I made at least 60 little houses--my home smelled glorious with all those baking!
Houses of all sizes beginning to be assembled.

Some years I even had Gingerbread House decorating parties with friends and extended family.  I'd bake and assembly one for everyone, but the decorating would be done by them.  Then I'd give out prizes of hand made ornaments to the winners.  Categories would be silly and usually invented so that everyone would leave with a prize ornament to hang on the tree as a memento of the celebration.

"This is the house that Jack   Mom Built"
She modeled it after Time Life's.

This year is no different from all the rest.  The gingerbread (Lebkuchen) baking has begun and the tradition is continuing!

I encourage you to give it a try.  You may even start a new tradition in your home.

** Please don't confuse the real thing to the prepackaged stuff they sell in the stores.  There is NO comparison.

Yup!  Gingerbread marks the season in my house.

As this season of Advent begins and you rush to the hustle and bustle of all that is demanded of you, I hope you can find a quiet moment or two to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Love was born at Christmas.  Peace and Blessings to you so that you may have love and understanding of others.

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