I asked the kids, “if you could do one Christmassy thing on Saturday, what would it be?” The girls were pretty quick to come up with the plan to make a gingerbread house from scratch. Ambitious, but doable, I thought.
What unfolded over the next few days was not only a lot of fun and hopefully a start of a new tradition, but it was chalk full of life lessons.
We girls have watched enough Hallmark Christmas movies to have a pretty good idea what a gingerbread house should look like. So, we began by imagining what ours would look like. This was a really fun stage and took us through breakfast.
By lunch, Lindsay reported she had looked into recipes and instructions and this was going to be no small feat. The mood shifted. Thankfully, it took little effort to persuade everyone to make it through this tough spot. The spot between dreaming and reality. How many times have I gotten stuck at that very spot? The kids persevered.
All we needed was to delegate. Since the candy portion of the project seemed to interest Cody the most, he agreed to make the grocery list for candy and ingredients. Lindsay would select the recipe for gingerbread and Jessica would make the frosting. By Friday night, we had most of the prep work done that made the next day possible.
By 7:00 a.m., I had the kitchen cleaned and the ingredients out.
The house smelled very Christmassy when I mixed up the dough. (By the way, like other building projects I’ve been on, the building required twice as much input and took much longer than originally projected.)
We utilized Jessica’s precise skills to measure and draw a template that we used to cut all of our panels. Cody thought this was an unnecessary step and he used a ruler, but no square to make his little building.
Lindsay rolled a lot of dough and Cody helped cut the panels for the house. Interestingly, the panels get cut before and after the baking process.
This was our first time using Royal Icing. That was a learning curve!!! But, we stuck with it and try, try again, we finally got it the right consistency.
All the panels had to be decorated and let dry before we could build. This picture cracks me up! I know he was smiling on the inside!!
The mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking process was tedious! There were many times that I sure could have thrown in the towel, too, but we persevered. Once we started putting panels together, it started taking shape.
We got Cody set up so he could watch/listen to a bull sale if he turned to his right and over his left shoulder, he could watch the SEC football game. Occasionally, he looked forward and watched us.
All of our hard work paid off in the end. We can officially say we have built a gingerbread house from scratch. In all, it took 12 hours! But, there was cooling and drying time in there and we did end up watching a Home Alone movie for a break.
Some of the things I learned, which incidentally can be applied to more than gingerbread houses….
- Take some time to really dream. Talk about and envision the end product.
- Reality will set in when you realize that achieving that dream won’t be easy.
- Take time to plan and prepare, but not to the point it paralyzes you.
- Achieving your vision will take longer and be harder than you expect.
- Some of the early steps are the hardest. Your “dream” looks like a lump of dough and it gets MESSY!
- Tackling any big project is more fun and doable when you do it as a team.
- It feels pretty good to cross the finish line!
- Finally, there will be mistakes along the way (yes, below is mine.) Laugh at them and learn from them.