Every year at Christmas time it’s the same. The children all come clamoring into the kitchen where slabs of gingerbread are cooling on racks—soon to be walls and chimneys and roofs—next to bowls of candy and chocolate that will become windows and doors, and one big bowl of white icing to hold it all together. The kids argue amongst themselves, deciding who will get the choicest pieces of gingerbread while I measure out the icing into pastry bags. One by one they return to the kitchen table, each clutching a stack of hard-baked gingerbread, and set to work.
They’re silent now, too intent on their work to talk amongst themselves. Soon enough, the houses start to come together; walls rise and roofs take shape. Soon little hands are reaching for the candy bowls, lining rooftops with gumdrops, turning ordinary chocolate bars into shutters for butterscotch windows, and imagining candy canes into picket fences.
Each house is unique, just as each child is. Some are meticulous and minimalist in their design, with seams carefully hidden by icing and peppermint sticks, and not a single decoration out of place. Others are ornate mansions, teeming with color; icing swirls across the rooftops, gumdrops circle the foundation, and it seems that not a single inch lacks some candy feature. It doesn’t matter, of course, every one is beautiful in its own special way, and each child glows with happiness as they one by one add their creations to the little gingerbread village in the dining room and run off to play before Christmas dinner.