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Warning: Get ready to feast your eyes on a whole lot of sugar, artificial dyes, gluten, corn syrup, and other stuff that is totally not the norm here at Daily Bites!
Over the weekend I was going through old photos of past holidays and I came upon my collection of gingerbread house photos. It made me so joyful to revisit the memories again that I just had to share them with you!
Years ago—long before I ever started blogging—I got together with some friends every year to make an annual gingerbread house. We had loads of fun. Our houses were constructed of classic materials like gluten-full gingerbread, pounds of sugary icing, candy, crackers, pretzels, marshmallows—the works. We may have snacked on a few candies throughout the process, but we never ate the gingerbread houses once they were completed. They were for eye-feasting only. We even had a few mishaps here and there that called for un-edible reinforcements like glue, so these houses were definitely designed for beauty, not consuming!
Our first house, pictured below, was crafted from a store-bought kit that we enhanced with our own personal touches like the ice cream cone tree and the rather dilapidated snowman in the front yard. This house was our first venture into gingerbread house construction. After just one house, we were hooked!
A year later, we decided to splurge on a bigger kit for a bigger house. This time we enhanced the house with our own ingredients: a pretzel fence, a pond with a handcrafted clay duck, multiple ice cream cone trees, Christmas lights around the roof, frosted cereal for the roof shakes, chocolate bar shutters, and even a chimney that I have no idea how we made but I remember it being a bit of a battle. The end result:
The next year we started planning our house—which was actually a barn—weeks in advance. My friends made templates for me to bake our own gingerbread walls and roof panels. We made our frosting from scratch and went all out on authentic decorations, farm animals, wood stacks, and more. The sad thing? I can’t find any pictures of it.
Total downer, right? This was before the age of camera phones and social media madness. I had no idea that I’d want to talk about the barn on my blog someday, otherwise I would have taken a dozen pictures for you!
The cool thing is that the memories are as fresh as ever in my mind. I may not have photos to prove it, but that barn was an absolute masterpiece. It was the final gingerbread project we worked on together, but I still made a few more houses in years that followed. One of them, a gingerbread church, took first place in a gingerbread house contest 4 or 5 years ago. Again, I have no pictures. (Do I deserve the Worst Blogger Ever award or what?)
The last house I built was this one: a cozy log cabin complete with a graham cracker bench and almond cobblestone pathway.
The memories of creating these houses are so sweet and precious to me. When I think back on all of the hours that went into planning and constructing them, I can’t help but sense that bittersweet mix of feelings that old memories stir up.
I’ve grown up. People and lives have changed. But the memories still hang fresh in my mind, always there to delight me when I need them most.
Who would’ve thought that a couple of gingerbread houses could mean so much?
Christmas has a way of softening my heart and making it grow tender as I recall old memories and anticipate the making of new ones in years to come. My heart is overflowing with desires and hopes for 2014. When I look back over my life at all of God’s fingerprints and at how He has led me to such fountains of blessing time and again, I rest in the knowledge that life is just as it should be.
Memories are an awesome thing, aren’t they?