Family Traditions

Once upon a time a young 17 year old girl made her first gingerbread house.  Yes, I was a senior in high school and that year we had just moved up to Michigan after living in Ohio most of my life.  I saw a recipe for a gingerbread house in a McCall’s Magazine; very simple and it was called a “Swiss Chalet”.   Decorations were limited but there were pretty green trees surrounding it.  So appetizing Dad had to take a bite out of one tree after coming home late from a business trip!  Of course I had to blame my 3 siblings until we saw evidence of green on Dad’s mouth and he had to confess 🙂

Most of my pictures are scanned and came from my two Gingerbread Creative Memories Albums.  So, they are not the best pictures but it will give you some ideas should you want to start a tradition like this in your family.

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Why I was interested in making it I am not sure but it started a family tradition years later. Mom saved the  magazine article with the recipe and directions and even my grocery list which are now yellow.  I do not have many things from back then and for Mom to have saved it must have meant something special to her as well.  Do you want to know the year?  That’s my secret!

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A few years went by and I made another one with Gene’s help right before we got married.  He came up with  a rather  plain design and you can tell I was not very creative in what I did with it but it was a gingerbread house.

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A  few more years passed and I came up with the idea of getting family members and some friends together to make gingerbread houses and celebrate the holiday season.   I actually still had the pattern and for the first year we just stayed with that design.

We decided on the first weekend in December to have this annual event and it would not interfere with Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Gene and I always let the kids spend Christmas with their significant others family or their mom (I was the stepmother).  Then I had two sisters who shared in this special occasion but came at different times.  My brother’s daughter from Hawaii joined us one year which was really special.  Even Gene’s mom was able to join us one year and she pitched right in helping to decorate.

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Gene made this sign for the golf cart…

 

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So,  thus began 18 years of making gingerbread houses in my family.  Unfortunately I lost the first pattern but Gene made a bigger one which had cut out windows and a door.  I also bought lights for the houses so each family could turn on their gingerbread house and smell the heated gingerbread.

I made all of the houses – one year it was a grand total of 6.  I baked  and assembled them and provided most of the candy.  Each family brought their own “roof” materials such as cereal, slivered almonds, licorice and so on, whatever they wanted.   I spent the year looking for different kinds of candy to decorate the houses so they would not look the same every year.  I did save what I could that was not all yucky from little hands and froze it.  If you would like to see my gingerbread dough recipe and royal icing “glue” just click on the pictures below.

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Gene designed the patterns for me, what the heck he had an engineering background.  Nothing fancy like you see on the Food Network Channel, but perfect for us.  Besides I had  to make each house, buy the candy, prepare appetizers, bake cookies and decorate our home for our holiday celebration.

The big job for me was making the dough, cutting and baking all of the different pieces for each house.  There were 2 sides with cut out windows, front with a door and window, back just plain with a little hole for the cord on the light to come through and then the roof with a separate chimney.  I also made little gingerbread boys and girls to place on a sled or perhaps under a tree.  Then I applied royal icing to glue the gelatin sheets to the windows and let dry before the final assembly.

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Some of the fun things I  provided  included a Santa to be placed in the chimney.  One year it was a gummy sucker, then a chocolate Santa and finally we all liked the maple Santas that everyone got to paint – very cute!  I made sleds with graham crackers and small candy canes, marzipan snowmen and in the beginning I colored  some trees for each family with  ice cream cones.

One year Gene made doghouses as three families all had dogs.   A sister made a reindeer out of fudge – adorable as we had a lot of deer roaming around our 75 acres at the time.  A gazebo was a welcome addition and all kinds of different characters such as a skier or “cone man”.  One father/son team made a Ford truck.  There was even a pool with a diving board and a gingerbread boy floating in the water.  So many different things we made.  The fences around the houses were always different and added a special final touch.  The kids and Gene started to get creative, even some of the adults including me!

Sadly, this family tradition came to an end when only one family could make it.  Lots of excuses and it was an event Gene and I hated to see come to an end.

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The following pictures are some of the GINGERBREAD HOUSES over the years…

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THE DECORATORS

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I am bringing a very special family tradition that we celebrated for a long time.  I know there are a lot of people who like gingerbread, whether it is in cookie or cake form and many who might make gingerbread houses like we did.  Happy Holidays to Angie over at The Novice Gardener where Fiesta Friday #47 is going strong.   Thanks also to the co-hosts this week, Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.

57 thoughts on “Family Traditions

  1. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #47 | The Novice Gardener

  2. Ooohhh!! I love the photos, Aunt Juju!! Is that you at the first photo? ❤ I love the tradition in your family! The gingerbread houses are so pretty. Thank you for sharing this at FF. Enjoy the party! 🙂

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    • Thanks Jhuls – it was a great tradition for almost 20 years – then their were conflicts in schedules, busy teenagers and college kids too so we stopped making them. Maybe next year I will make one again! Yes, that is me quite a few years ago but I will not tell you how many LOL 🙂

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  3. What a lovely post Judi!! I loved seeing all your creations thru the years! Love this tradition. I’ve been planning to make gingerbread houses ever since I had the munchkin 3 years ago, but have been putting it off. About time, I got my act together! You are such a inspiration 🙂

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    • Thanks for your sweet comments Naina – you made my day. I am so happy to share all the fun I have had in my kitchen over so many years. Three years old is the perfect time to start your own tradition. The kids loved decorating their house, especially when they were young. Yes, there is still a little time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so inspiring! I just made my very first gingerbread house with my husband and I was telling him that we should make this a tradition every year! This post just cemented that! I love all of the pictures and all of the houses! They are wonderful 🙂 (I was going to blog about mine, but your gingerbread houses look alot better than mine! :D)

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    • Thanks so much Giramuk – I am so happy you will continue this tradition with your husband and eventually maybe with your own children or friends. By all means post your gingerbread house – I would love to see it and so would everyone else. You see how I first started and then each year you come up with new ideas. Some of the houses the kids decorated and some I did. I was trying to give ideas on how we decorated our houses. You certainly have a talent for baking and I can envision beautiful houses in the future 🙂

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    • Thanks Michelle! Perfect to make one or two with your nephews and niece. I did it with 2 nieces and 5 nephews in addition to grandkids and a friend’s children. That makes me feel good that you feel extra festive because that is what it meant to me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, how beautiful Judi, don’t you just love traditions? You’ve got some wonderful memories to cherish and hand down. Good on you, and Happy Holidays 🙂

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    • Thanks Loretta – I sure do love traditions and this was one we maintained for 18 years. Hopefully, the kids will follow the same, but their own, tradition with their families. Happy Holidays Loretta to you and your family 🙂

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  6. What wonderful memories, Juju – I loved the pictures! We are assembling our house tomorrow and I am very tempted to add a few pictures of our ‘historic’ ones 😉

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    • Thanks Ginger – it sure was hard to choose the pictures out of two big albums and not overdo. Kaila, Giramuk and I are the only ones I know that have made gingerbread houses this year. Good luck with yours 🙂

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    • Thanks so much Fae – I really appreciate your nice comments. Yes, I was rather young when I started – I look a little (a lot) different now. I am so glad you enjoyed my family tradition during the holidays and you know a little more about me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a lovely, memory filled post, Judi. 😀 Beautiful photos to accompany the family tradition of gingerbread house making (I love Gene’s sign!). It’s such a shame schedules got in the way of these wonderful gatherings… I say, try to bring it back and those who want to revive the tradition will join in… just make sure they rsvp so a small fortune is spent on unused candy! Thank you for sharing your beautiful family tradition!

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    • Thanks a bunch Nancy – I’m glad you enjoyed Gene’s sign. He could do all kinds of things using the computer! We really had a great time and this worked for everyone for quite awhile. You know how family members can get – some excuses! Lots of fun buying all kinds of candy and then trying to stay out of it! Merry Christmas to you and your family 🙂

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  8. This is my all time favorite heart felt post ever. I have an empty nest this year with our oldest living in California so I shed a few tears thinking about our gingerbread events and Christmas’ Past. Thank you Judi

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    • Thanks so much for your comments Tracey – memories are special but inside I wish we still had “gingerbread weekend”. I shed a few tears as well putting this post together, but most of them were good. Hopefully, your eldest will be home next week. Happy Holidays to you 🙂

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  9. What a wonderful tradition you had – such special time, gathering families together to chat and decorate – I bet they all have some really wonderful memories of those days, Judi, all thanks to you. And how adorable do you look standing so proudly next to that very impressive chalet that you made. An absolutely wonderful post that I am sure must have brought you much joy as you put it together. Thank you so much for sharing a little of your life and inspiring people to start this tradition too. Wishing you and your family, a very Merry Christmas!

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    • We had the best time Selma as it was a special occasion that we could get both kids and their families together. We all lived an hour away from each other so it was often hard to coordinate things. Then my sisters wanted to be a part and some friends so it was a busy time baking gingerbread. Thanks for the compliment about me when I was much younger. I do look rather proud don’t I? I think it was my fate to do this and I really enjoyed sharing in a way that did not involve presents. I hope I do inspire people to find their own traditions and making gingerbread houses worked for us. Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to you and your family 🙂

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  10. Pingback: Gingerbread House | Ginger&Bread

  11. Hey Judi, what a great post! Thanks so much for sharing this great tradition that you have been having in your family and for sharing the wonderful pics. ! You look so beautiful in your high school year pic with your first gingerbread house! And all the gingerbread houses look wonderful – all the pics show the warmth and love in your family. Awesome! 🙂

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    • Thanks Indu – I sure did have fun putting it together. The difficult part was picking out the pictures as I have two albums full of our annual gingerbread celebration. Hard to believe I was 17 when I made my first house. I certainly have changed LOL! I am glad you can feel the warmth and sincerity in my post – it really means a lot to me. Thanks for co-hosting FF – it’s a lot of fun but work too 🙂

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  12. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #48 | The Novice Gardener

  13. Wow! Great post, Judi! That’s really so heart-touching and beautiful tradition!!! It’s amazing when you can spend time with beloved ones! Hope you had wonderful Xmas this year! 🙂

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    • Thanks Loretta for such a nice comment. The post meant an awful lot to me and I am so happy that others could feel how special this tradition was. Best wishes to you in the New Year 🙂 Great to see the bloggers who are starting this same tradition with their families!

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  14. This is a fun tradition that my friends have done for many years. I have a photo of last years Gingerbread house somewhere. They are so amazing to see. Thanks for sharing this family tradition.

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  15. Pingback: New Christmas Traditions: Our First Gingerbread House - Spice in the City

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