For most people, gingerbread cookies are a kind and gentle Christmas tradition. The scent of cloves and cinnamon and molasses infuse the house with happy memories of past holidays. Children cluster around the table decorating gingerbread cookies with mini-M & M’s and colored sugars. My family, however, has taken the gingerbread thing to a whole new level. As in, a highly competitive Olympic-style sport… the Annual Gingerbread House Competition.
Yes, we still have the sweet melodies of Celine Dion’s Christmas album playing in the background. And, the delicious fragrance of gingerbread fills the house. But, unfortunately, the competitive spirit that has molded my husband and me into highly driven adults does not take a vacation just because it’s Christmas time. When I suggested to my husband several years ago that we should start a new family tradition and decorate a gingerbread house, he got a wicked gleam in his eye, and the battle was on.
Team One: The Boys. My husband and my son have bowls of candy lined up on the table in military precision. My husband’s anal retentive tendencies are never more apparent than with the gingerbread house construction. He has Necco wafers perfectly overlapped as roof tiles, thin slices of licorice as window panes, and an entire freaking fence around the property made of pretzel sticks. My son (who actually does not have a competitive bone in his body), goes along for the ride, working as my husband’s assistant, often with icing smeared on his face.
Team Two: The Girls. My daughter and I, both highly competitive by nature, are also free spirits. We like to adhere to the “free-style” form of design. That means a wide array of colors, textures, and candies more or less thrown haphazardly onto the structure. My daughter’s goal is to cover every square inch of house with candy, and pray that the roof doesn’t cave in from the overload. (Which it did, last year. The Boys Team won by default. My daughter didn’t care since she got to eat the rubble.). By the time our competition is over, we all have stomach aches from eating too much crap, and the kids have lost interest and are already playing on the Wii. The two imposing gingerbread houses take a place of honor on the center kitchen island, where visiting friends and neighbors can gawk at the masterpieces and exclaim “Thank God we don’t have a gingerbread house competition.”
I’ve seen photos of real culinary gingerbread competitions, where the chefs have stained glass windows made of melted candies, and the entire house is lit with actual electricity. They are nothing short of astounding, and definitely bring a certain magic to the holiday. That’s why I decided to incorporate an entire gingerbread city in my debut novel Sweet Inspiration. When Lucy, the heroine, walks into the Pfefferkuchen (gingerbread) room in the North Pole, she is delighted to find an entire city fashioned from gingerbread, and it’s….”alive” with magic. Lucy is captivated by the sight. Gingerbread is pretty much the quintessential holiday treat, and I hope that this scene in my story has captured a bit of the spirit of Christmas.
Contest TIme! [NOW CLOSED]
Penny is kindly giving away an ebook copy of her debut novel Sweet Inspiration. You can read my review HERE.
To enter all you have to do is complete the form below.
This contest is open WORLDWIDE! Ends 31st Dec.
What if the legend of Santa Claus is in fact, true? What if Santa has five big strapping sons who help him run his empire? Five single, sexy sons looking for romance… Nicholas Klaus is a master pastry chef, a strict disciplinarian, and the eldest son of the legendary Santa Claus. One look at café owner Lucy Brewster sends him into an unexpected tailspin of lusty desires. When Lucy is injured, Nicholas makes a decision that catapults both of their lives into turmoil ….
Lucy Brewster, the free-spirited proprietor of Sweet Inspiration, has a flair for concocting sugary confections but no time for adventure. She gets more than she bargained for when she awakens in the North Pole…rambunctious elves, a fitness-obsessed Santa, and the man of her dreams. Does she have what it takes to become the next Mrs. Klaus?