Back in 1992, a friend invited me to a Pampered Chef party. And, well, you know how it is . . . you feel obligated to go. And obligated to buy something.
I bought this . . .
a gingerbread mold.
It'll be fun . . . I thought.
The kids and I can make gingerbread houses . . . I imagined.
Maybe it'll even become an annual tradition . . . I mused.
And, y'know? I was RIGHT!
In the early years, I always baked two houses worth of gingerbread, and my mom and I teamed up with my kids to decorate houses on a weekend before Christmas. It was lots of fun - and something we all enjoyed doing together. (Although Brian usually lost interest once the houses were assembled; he hardly ever stuck around for the finished product.)
While Brian's interest waned, Erin became the Queen of Gingerbread. She started hosting an annual gingerbread decorating party for her friends. Here they are in 5th grade (Erin, the hostess-with-the mostest, is in the very back of this photo; I can't remember which finished house was hers, though.) . . .
(You'll notice I gave up on the mold when it came to Erin's parties. We just went with graham-crackers-on-milk-cartons.) (Works GREAT, by the way.)
Erin's annual parties continued even in high school. She invited fewer friends -- and baked the gingerbread (in the mold) on her own. (Just as an aside . . . one of Erin's high school friends used to decorate these incredible houses every year. Intricate and gorgeous. Really amazing. She ended up becoming a pastry chef and decorator extraordinaire as an adult! We knew her when. . . )
Once Erin finished college and moved to Pittsburgh, we started doing gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving evening after the meal. We continued the tradition this year. It was really hard without my mom . . . but we were thrilled to add my sister to the mix! (She has never taken part in this particular activity with me before, although she is a veteran gingerbread house decorator.)
This year, my sister and I got our inspiration from Pinterest. Like . . . maybe too much inspiration. We got really excited about . . . thatched roofs and stone fireplaces.
My sister's kind of worked . . .
But mine? Not so much. . . The "stones" are falling off in little piles around the base of my house!
(There will be no "stones" left by Christmas. . . )
But, you know. That's how it goes! Some years, our gingerbread houses turn out GREAT. And some years . . . well, they just don't.
But it doesn't matter at all.
Because it's really not about the finished product! Like most beloved family holiday traditions, it's ALL about the being together, having fun -- and creating memories.
I'm really blessed . . . to have some great memories coming out of that silly Pampered Chef party. These houses really just . . . warm my heart. Every single year.