Every Friday after Thanksgiving, instead of Black Friday shopping, my family kicks off the Christmas season by making gingerbread houses. Real gingerbread houses.
My mom and her sisters were the masterminds behind this seasonal tradition. One year, they received two different kinds of gingerbread house molds as gifts, and the tradition took off. The day after Thanksgiving, without fail, was “gingerbread house day”.
About a week before “gingerbread house day”, Mom would get up early to start the all-day process of making the gingerbread. Waking up to the smell of warm molasses would let me know mom was in the kitchen making the walls, roofs, and chimneys we used to make our houses. I usually walked in, decked out in my PJs, just in time to help her take out the first batch.
When the day to decorate the houses finally came, the grown ups took pictures as all the cousins dove head first into icing, peppermints, and red and green M&ms. The candy was held onto the walls by a magical icing that hardened and kept Twizzlers and gumdrops from rolling off of the rooftops. During our first few years of gingerbread building, the older cousins would help the younger cousins (me) with the icing while we would grab handfuls of candy, putting some on our houses and some in our mouths. The entire day was a nonstop Christmas candy feast.
As the years went on, we continued to get together and make our gingerbread houses bigger and better. My mom always loved to point out that no two gingerbread houses ever looked alike, just like us.
Even though my brothers and cousins are all grown up, they still bring their kids to make gingerbread houses with us. But now we’re the big kids, helping the kiddos decorate their houses and making sure they’re putting more candy on their houses than in their mouths.