By Melissa Wheeler
Family Christmas Traditions are one of my favorite things about the Christmas Season. Every family has them and they are all unique and special.
After my husband and I were married, we learned how different traditions can be and how special it is to blend them into our new family Christmas traditions.
New Family Christmas Traditions
We both grew up spending Christmas Eve at our Grandparents homes. During my first Christmas with his family, I experienced his mom’s amazing rolls, participated in my first girl cousin DVD exchange, and Parks family white elephant gift exchange. I missed my own family horribly, but was surprised by how much I loved this new family and their traditions.
Since then, my husband and I have had fun establishing our own traditions – some new and some old. One tradition I’ve tried to embrace with my boys is building Ginger Bread Houses.
Building Ginger Bread Houses
Growing up, I was fortunate to live next to a Grandmother who loved making Gingerbread houses. I wish I had pictures to share how amazing they were. All I did was show up and frost on the candy. She made it seem simple to whip out a professional ginger bread house, worthy of Martha Stewart Living.
Alas, I learned the hard way how truly difficult it is to build real gingerbread houses. After she passed away when I was a teenager, I invited my friend’s children over to decorate gingerbread houses. I was going to attempt baking them myself. After all, my grandmother baked her own. I assumed I’d bake perfect, magical houses ready for them to decorate.
I didn’t know anything about using molds. I could hardly bake cookies, but assumed my gingerbread could be wished to perfection with my enthusiasm and memories.
The children arrived to lopsided, broken gingerbread walls, sloped together and messily glued with globs of frosting. Of course they didn’t care, but I did.
When my own children were old enough to decorate, I was sad that they wouldn’t have the same experience as me.
I wasn’t ready to attempt baking another house. Instead, I gave in and bought my first pre-fab ginger bread village. I looked down my nose at it until I realized it only took me 30 minutes to glue it together, versus hours of stressing over baking, cutting and cooking – only to have a lopsided mess.
The boys absolutely loved decorating – just like I loved it when I was a child. We glued on gumdrops and sprinkles, made icicles with frosting and outlined windows with hard candy. It was more than 20 years after my first ginger bread house and my Grandma Barnhill has been gone for about 15 years, yet I still got the same warm, fuzzy feeling from those Christmases way back when.
Are our new ginger bread house Martha Stewart worthy? Definitely not. Are they still displayed in my home? With pride! Do we have fun and look forward to making them every year? Most definitely.
I learned my lesson. Our family Christmas traditions don’t have to be the exact same as the ones from our childhood. They can be messy and crooked, but still beautiful and full of magic.
What are your favorite family Christmas traditions?