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Back in the day, when my children were young and my hair was short and permed (sadly I can't find any pictures), I was a stay-at-home, trying very hard to be a “good mother” while attempting to stay sane raising 4 children 5 and under (YES, I DO KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED THANK YOU VERY MUCH).  

The boxed wine helped a lot.

I've never been a "crafty" person...you know the kind of person, maybe YOU are that person.  The person who has the amazing and creative photo album books, the sewing, the ribbons, the quilts, the pillows, etc. etc, blah blah blah.

I was a good cook, but a lousy baker and really lousy at anything that involved "putting together" instructions.   I really could not take anything with instructions.

One day, while out and about, I came across a "gingerbread house making kit".  This looked easy!  This looked like something I could possibly do!  

I assembled the children, sat them down at the kitchen table, put the kit in the middle, made a brilliant and stirring speech about the making and importance of family traditions, and that we were about to create a new tradition and today would be the first of many many years of making the Annual Family Christmas Gingerbread House.

At the time, the children were 6, 5, 4 and 1.  Even then, they looked at me with skepticism and mistrust.  Apparently, they had already, at their tender ages, figured out I wasn't good at putting things together.

"Kids, see, how easy.  All we have to do is make this special frosting mix that will cement the pieces together, and Voila, a magical edible Gingerbread House!"

The silence continued...

I put on Christmas music, whipped up the frosting and placed the bowl proudly on the table.

"Now, we just take the frosting and put it on the sides and then, perfectly presto, the gingerbread house will stand on its own.  It will be beautiful and we'll eat it on Christmas Day and every Christmas Day from this point forward".

They were all looking at one another shaking their heads.

Ungrateful children!

I said I would start first.  The frosting placed carefully on the sides of the little pre-made house, standing them up, then Down!  Not working.  This frosting isn't working.  Must not be thick enough.  More something or another in the mixing bowl.  Where is that confectioners' sugar?  Oh yes, here it is.

"Okay, dear children", I said in the sweetest of all mother voices, "we will try this again".

Tenderly and artfully applying the extra frosting, standing the gingerbread up, and BAM, down again.

Big sigh.  "Okay, children.  WE can do this.  I CAN DO THIS.  This is easy!"

The children scratching their necks and looking around, then looking closely at their mother, then at one another.

Bam!  Down again!

More confectioners' sugar must be needed.  Mix again, try again.

CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR FLYING AROUND...FILLING THE AIR.

BAM...DOWN AGAIN!

Grabbing the mixing bowl, throwing more powdered sugar in, the hell with the mess, I'm going to friggin do this if it kills me.  Powdered sugar everywhere in the kitchen...on the walls, the floor, the innocent kids' faces.

Another attempt.  DOWN!  WALLS ARE DOWN!  There is no gingerbread house...a huge mess everywhere.  Mom exasperated, breathing hard, yelling:

"DAMN THIS GINGERBREAD HOUSE, THIS PIECE OF CRAP, THIS NO GOOD FOR NOTHING PRE-MADE KIT FROM HELL!!!"

"Mom".

It was my oldest, my wisest, astute even at the young age of 6.

"Mom"...in the quietest and gentlest of voices.

"YEAH, WHAT DO YOU WANT????"

"Mom, it's just that I think, that, well, I just don't think we should make this an annual Christmas tradition after all."

Hair in my face, tears in my eyes, I stood there with a mixing beater in my hand.   I was breathing hard.

And then I started laughing.  Belly laughing.  Howling laughing.  With relief, the children joined in.

We laughed so hard.  Started throwing frosting at one another.  Our faces looked like ghosts so white we were.

"Jump in the car!  Right now!  Let's get out of here!  Brent's is right!"   And off to McDonald's we went where smiles and laughter were all around, and the gingerbread house was long forgotten.

And never brought up again.



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