Baking, decorating, family…all the things that fill the holidays with joy. Join our Entangled authors as they share a little something special from their home during the holidays.
Home for the Holidays Feature by Heidi Rice…Or, How to Destroy One of Your Family’s Favorite Christmas Traditions!
In our family we love Christmas. And we have lots of Christmas traditions. Me, my husband and our two sons live in London, England, and it’s a fabulous city to spend the holidays in. There’s always lots of festive things to see and do: we might stroll down Regents Street to enjoy the Christmas lights, stop for a mince pie at the National Portrait Gallery and admire the huge tree in Trafalgar Square, go ice-skating at The Natural History Museum or Somerset House, head for the Winter Wonderland Fun Fair on Hyde Park Corner, or visit Santa and his real reindeer at London Zoo… But by far our two best-loved Christmas traditions – which we started when the boys were little and still do every year – is, firstly, to go to John Lewis (our favorite department store on London’s Oxford Street) so they can each buy a new Christmas tree ornament. And the other is to make a gingerbread house (in the interests of full disclosure, this always involves buying a kit as we are all challenged when it comes to baking and/or construction!).
My boys are now grown and last year only my older son could make it to John Lewis with me to buy the ornaments, but while we were there our two favorite traditions combined in, what we thought at the time, was a wonderfully fortuitous way when we spotted a kit to make a Gingerbread Village. For only £15! Full of Christmas spirit (and maybe a bit too much mulled wine from John Lewis’s rooftop bar) we decided that was a bargain. That was our first mistake…
A few days later we sat down to build our village, still feeling pretty buzzed about the challenge. My younger son (always a reluctant participant in the building-of-gingerbread-houses tradition) took one look at our kit and said something like: ‘A whole village? Are you joking? It’ll be January before you two finish that.’ And then he shot off, after sneaking a handful of our fixtures and fittings (ie: the M&Ms). Undaunted, my older son and I whacked up the volume on our Motown Christmas Album and got to work. One hour later and we’d managed to build ONE house. And it was just starting to dawn on us that a whole village might have been a tad ambitious…
Two hours in and we were flagging – many of the fixtures and fittings (ie: the M&Ms) had been consumed to keep our energy levels up, the writing icing was running out, we had jelly beans all over the floor, icing sugar in our hair and we still had a schoolhouse and a barn to make! Seriously? What self-respecting village needs a barn?! And we’d had to resort to listening to the local radio because we were both ready to throttle Smokey Robinson if we had to hear him sing Jingle Bells one more time. But unfortunately, I’d been detailing our progress on Instagram (mistake number two!) so we had to persevere.
Eventually we finished the village (even that stupidly unnecessary barn). And we actually felt pretty darn impressed with ourselves despite feeling a bit queasy from all the fixtures and fittings we’d eaten – until we made our third and final mistake… We compared our construction to the staggeringly beautiful village pictured on the box! And suddenly our Christmas Village, despite all our hard work, looked more like a town in the middle of a Gingerbread war zone. At which point my son and I got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing… Which might have been the sugar rush to be fair.
We parked our Gingerbread Disaster Zone in the middle of the kitchen for the rest of the holidays, chuckling every time we passed it, but we have decided that this year we will be changing our tradition, from now on we’ll be eating the gingerbread and not building a single solitary thing with it… Especially gingerbread barns!
Serious props to Heidi and her son! Have you guys ever attempted a Gingerbread village? While you’re debating that another easier choice to make is to pick up Tis the Season to Get Lucky by Heidi Rice for just 99¢!