This is such a wonderful time of year. Christmas, I mean.
Our local newspaper has been spotlighting secret “Layaway Angels” who have been secretly paying off random Layaway Bills at retail stores. These un-named “angels” are in special search of layaway orders with children’s clothing and toys. What a wonderful surprise that would be to go the store to pay off another chunk of your bill for Christmas gifts…..and then to hear that your whole bill has been paid. I love to hear about random kindness. People have good hearts. And this season magnifies it.
. . .
We are all ready for Christmas. And so excited to be near family this year. I haven’t been sewing much this week. Or doing any extra projects. Mostly just a bit of shopping, wrapping (and more wrapping), and making ingredient lists for holiday food. Yum.
We also made Gingerbread (graham cracker) Houses yesterday. This is something I have done every year since I was a little girl. Every year. No skipping. My mom was an elementary school teacher for years and she made these simple little houses with her students every year too.
Christmas isn’t Christmas for me, without constructing an edible Christmas House…..packed with all the candy I can smother my cookie house with. And now my kids are part of the same tradition.
To make the house, you need glue. But it has to be edible.
So here’s the recipe my mom has used for years and years. And no joke, this stuff dries quickly and helps your structure to stay put. And keeps all the candy right in place……which is very important! :)
My mom mentioned to me that the water is so variable. Sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s more…..but she always starts with about a 1/4 cup and then adds more as needed. You want your icing to be kinda thick but not too thick to squeeze through your pastry tip. But not watery at all. (If you don’t have a pastry bag/tip…….just put the icing down into the corner of a baggie and cut the tip off. We did that all growing up.)
The other thing, is that my mom always buys the regular ‘ol Honey Maid brand graham crackers. The off-brands tend to break and sometimes aren’t perfectly squared off on the corners. So keep that in mind. (The other thing she always does if helping small kids, is she cuts the graham crackers to the shapes she needs for the walls and roof and then lets the kids decorate each piece while it lays flat on the table. After the candy dries onto the house parts, she then constructs the house and puts all the pieces together with the frosting.)
**One more thing……to cut the graham crackers, use a serrated knife. Cut slowly and it will cut nice and clean for you.
My sisters’ kids came yesterday to make their gingerbread houses with us. Yep, even the teenagers came. It’s tradition, remember?
And grandma was right there helping out, like always. I think she is secretly thrilled that they all still want to make Christmas Gingerbread Houses with her.
There’s always one or two that make the traditional Victorian style house…..and cover it with vivid candies of all shapes and sizes. But, there’s also some creativity that sneaks in there too. Like, my niece who patterned her structure after Frank Lloyd Wright’s style of architecture. She even had her mom’s cell phone propped up nearby for inspiration. Very modern and clean lines.
And then my other niece made the cutest little things out of gumdrops. Here’s her little pup. Complete with its own little doghouse and food bowl.
And then my husband…….well, haha, he made Santa’s outhouse. Because, as he explained, “Santa Poops Too!”
I love family traditions. And this is one that lives on, year after year.
And I love my mom for having the patience to make one with all 7 of us kids year after year……..and then even more patience to make them with whichever grandkids are nearby during the Christmas season.
I truly hope you’re all enjoying your holiday. And are nearby family and/or close friends. Christmas is all about love and giving and service and good will. And most importantly……the Christ child, who taught us all these things through his example.
From my family to yours…….I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
See you soon.