Please allow me to introduce you to our annual holiday tradition:
Let me explain.
It all started when Stephen and I were home from college for the summer of 2006. We were between our sophomore and junior years and since we went to different colleges, we pretty much spent every waking moment of the summer together.
Anyways, it was the middle of July and we were bored... Therefore, crazy and interesting things were bound to happen, right?
Stephen & Caroline, circa Summer 2006
Wishing it were Christmas and snowing as usual, Stephen decided that we should build a gingerbread house together. Immediately.
I, being a sane, normal person, argued that it was the middle of summer and 95 degrees outside and that only crazy people build gingerbread houses in July. He reminded me that he is crazy. I concurred. Thus, Stephen and I built our very first gingerbread house together:
Uh... Did I say house? I'm sorry, what I meant to say was CATHEDRAL.
Yes, that's right. We built a cathedral. Complete with dome, flying buttresses, and stained glass rose windows (made with melted jolly ranchers). Have I mentioned that we have a tendency to go overboard?
See? Crazy and interesting things always happen when we get bored.You should see our James Bond movie. Then again, no one should have to watch that movie... I was M and I'm a terrible actress. Oh, and there was never a script. Just trust me. It's not worth the agony and awkwardness.
Forget I said anything. Let's get back to the gingerbread.
Our next foray into gingerbread house making occurred in December 2009. Despite the huge snow storm that was about to hit, we headed to Blacksburg to visit our sister Theresa for some holiday festivities.
She's a pretty great lady to have around when trapped in a neighborhood by 20 inches of snow. We built a snow man, made snow angels, baked pepperoni bread, watched Christmas movies and had a terrific time together. Theresa even punched her brother for me every time he pushed his little wife over into the snow.
I may have married the abominable snowman...
And if you are going to be trapped in a neighborhood until the snow plows come, then can you think of a better way to spend your time than by building a gingerbread house from scratch?
The only correct answer to that question is "No." Don't argue with the rolling pin wielding pregnant lady. Ok?
Since we were trapped in the neighborhood and didn't have much in the way of supplies, we made colored sugar to decorate. It's no cathedral, but the activity was more about having fun with family and friends then about fanciness.
Aww... That was Joseph's first gingerbread house as a fetus! What a strange thought...
Making gingerbread houses officially became a holiday tradition for Stephen and myself last year when we held a Gingerbread House Extravaganza with Theresa and a few of our friends.
Somehow, our little gingerbread party transformed into a fierce competition between the men and the women. The men dubbed themselves "Team Bone Shrapnel" (baby Joseph was an honorary member) and all of the sudden it became a race to see who could build the best house.
The men repeatedly accused the women of spying on them every time we flitted over to their table for some candy supplies. The whole thing was a lot of fun and very silly!
And, since they really make the house, we brought back the "stained glass" windows.
After all the fun we had last year, you'd better believe that the Gingerbread War was on like Donkey Kong this holiday season. Stephen even created a logo for our email party invitation:
Ridiculous. I love that man. Even if he dubbed us "The Women Folk" and made our house smaller than his tank. Punk.
So, it was The Women Folk:
Versus Team Bone Shrapnel:
Joseph was supposed to be on Team Bone Shrapnel, but he kept defecting to whoever had control of the vanilla wafers. Smart kid.
I kept taking pictures of their progress and got the, "Hey! NO SPYING!" look as they used ravioli cans and juice boxes to prop up their walls while the royal icing dried. Silly men.
Check out the Christmas tree in their stained glass window! How cool is that?
Stephen & Mark completely revolutionized our life saver stained glass window method this year.
Instead of putting everything in the oven, Stephen raided the tool closet and broke out the heat gun:
I found this to be quite hilarious, but it actually does a terrific job!
And the boys used tin foil molds to create actual pictures in their windows.Once it was mostly melted, they removed the molds while the candy was still melty.
Unfortunately, when I made the gingerbread pieces this year, I followed the Joy of Cooking instructions to the letter and rolled the pieces out to a 1/4 inch. Last year, mostly by accident, our pieces were much thicker - about a 1/2 inch thick. I also think that we baked them longer last year.
Anyways, the boys ended up some defective gingerbread pieces and before their house even had a chance to dry...
(The flag-like window was supposed to be a snowman.)
So sad. I really think that with their awesome windows, they were well on their way to victory. There were a few outcries of sabotage, but ultimately I declared that it was the baker's error and that next year I would return to the thicker pieces and bake them longer. We'll have a fair rematch next Christmas. No one likes to win by default.
For now, the The Women Folk's house is hanging out on the mantel:
Baby Jesus has taken up residence with Mr. and Mrs. Gingersnap until Christmas day.
And we all decided that once the Christmas season is over, we are going to hold an after party in which we place the house on the ground and let Joseph stomp it like Godzilla. While filming from the level of the floor of course. I can't wait!
And that's our official holiday tradition!
We're a bit crazy, but we enjoy and embrace our crazy!
What I love about the gingerbread holiday tradition is how it evolves each year. Peaches, one of my college buddies, has her own gingerbread party every year, but with milk cartons and graham crackers. She requires all participants to wear a crazy Christmas sweater from Goodwill and I've been thinking that next year it would be fun to include that requirement at our party! **evilly chortles to self**
But most of all, I can't wait until our kids are older and can have their very own team in the Gingerbread Wars!
Hop on over to Newlywoodwards to read about other people's holiday traditions!