A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yet, again, my mother was right

When Jenni was a pre-teen, she and my mom spent an afternoon around the Holidays putting together a gingerbread house. My mother insisted that we bring it back to our house rather than keep it at hers as a reminder of her dear grandaughter. At the time, I thought that was a very un-grandmotherly thing for her to do. I also remember her muttering something like "never again..." but that's a vague memory. We did bring it home and left it on the counter until it turned rather green and fuzzy and began collapsing on itself. Much like the pumpkin that is carved too early.

Having forgotten much of this, I merrily bought a gingerbread house kit to work on with my grandkids. Actually, the plan was to work on it with JENNI and the kids, but she somehow managed to get out of the process. Crafty woman, that one.

So last Friday after I picked the kids up from school and after Vika finished her homework, we began house building. Just me and Vika - Eamon wasn't the least bit interested except to come into the kitchen at periodic intervals and say, "Oh, wow! Okay, bye." Crafty like his mom.

We carefully opened the box and laid out all the parts. There was even a tray to place the house in with little indentations for the walls, the tree, etc. I mean, how tough could this be? There was a big bag of white frosting, two bags of green, and one small bag of yellow. Plus at least 75 bags of little tiny candies. That made me a bit nervous.

Instructions said to cut a small hole in the corner of the bag o' white frosting which is, in essence, the mortar. Well, I proceeded to cut a "small" hole in the corner, about 1/2 inch wide. Not good. The instructions said to squeeze out a small line of frosting to holds the sides and top of the house together. Mine, of course, was not a small line. It was more like a glob. Vika and I tried to spread it with little appetizer knives. Not spreadable. We decided to use our fingers which worked somewhat better. And we stuck the house together. It worked! A little messy perhaps, and definitely not looking like the picture on the box. But what the heck. Then we put the tree in place at which time Vika needed to go to the bathroom. So I asked her where she wanted more white frosting for decorative effect. First, she told me in her most dramatic voice that she did NOT want our house to look like the one on the box (like there was even a chance of that happening!). She wanted her own design. So she told me where to put the white frosting and went on her way.

I noticed that they had also included a clear plastic frosting bag with a little plastic tip. So I decided to put what was left of the white into that bag so I would have a smaller tip to work with. I'm not stupid - by this time I figured out that I had made much too large a hole in the bag. I squeezed all the white goo into the frosting bag and begin my outlining of the windows, gables, etc. as instructed by Vika. I was doing a pretty decent job when I noticed that my arm was feeling a little cold and wet. Looked down and, you guessed it, a large glob of the frosting had come out of the back end of the bag while I was squeezing and had landed on my arm. Good grief. By the way, in case you haven't ascertained this yet - baking is NOT my strong point. Anyway, I gathered the frosting and put it back in the bag and cleaned up the mess before the little drill sergeant came back.

We drew lines with the white and then the green frosting. Placed candies strategically all around. Again, making damn sure we were using our own design and not the one on the box! Vika preferred alternating colors or, as she said, "I really like patterns." We decorated the windows, the roof, and the tree. Also managed to get one gingerbread man in place. There wasn't a slot for the other one so we just sort of rested him by the house. By this time Ed came home and he and Vika did some grass and snow and then they decided that they needed to taste the candies so that took a few minutes. Since, we had a huge bowl of candy and no conceivable place to put them on the house, they felt comfortable eating a bunch of them.

Besides, by this time I was totally done! I just wanted to clean up the kitchen, my arms and fingers (which had become tinted by the green frosting) and take the kids and the house back to their home. I called Jenni to see if they were ready to get the kids back and told her about the house. She said, "Aren't you going to keep it there?" Nope! It's going home with the kids.

Yes, we had come full circle.

Of course, as we were driving them home, the gingerbread house was on my lap and apparently the frosting hadn't set well enough yet. Suddenly I could feel the gables slipping so I put my finger on them to hold them in place. Then the roof started to go. All the cute little decorations we had put on the roof line were now falling into the house. I had my fingers gingerly placed in several locations trying to not have total collaps. That was the longest ride ever.

Finally made it to Jenni's house. The kids got out, Ed helped me and the G.H. out of the car and up the stairs. I placed our artwork on Jenni's dining room table and - in slow motion - the sides and roof of the house collapsed and fell into the tray. I told the kids that their Papa could fix it! Or they could just eat the darn thing. Either way, my job here was done.

Someday Jenni may forget these experiences and do a gingerbread house with her granddaughters. Hope I'm still around to hear her story!


namaste said...

wow! you and your mom are great! i will NOT be doing a gingerbread house. i prefer play-doh. heh.


Desert Diva said...

It's an adorable house though. I was an an elementary school and the kids were making one with individual milk cartons from their lunch with graham crackers and canned frosting. Surprisingly, they were super cute!

It's Me said...

Ya'lls came out BEAUTIFUL. I constructed a whole classroom full about 8 years ago....the old fashion way...without kits. It was DISASTER to say the least. Great memories, but total chaos!!!! Some of our classroom teachers took on the project this year....major chaos!!

Kudos to you!

Jenni said...

Making gingerbread houses in class last December, with 30 KIDS, pretty much cured me of any desire I may have ever had to construct gingerbread houses in the future.

As for the one you and the kids made, it still sits on our kitchen counter, the collapsed remains of the house it once was. It's quite sad, actually.

ba and the boys said...

that is a beautiful house! i prefer to just eat the candy and forget the whole house thing...
the kids wont forget it! and that is the most important thing.

Fleur de Lisa said...

The kids will always remember this! I remember making these candle holder things out of pringles cans covered in felt with my grandparents. I'm sure they were hideous but we loved them.