Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gingerbread House

Sugar can be quite a dangerous substance to any school aged child. Parents don’t think of the poor beleaguered teacher when they pack their child’s lunch full of sugary snacks. As a teacher myself, I treat sugar with care, the same way the bomb squad treats a suspicious package. If ever there is a class party or anything that involves pop and candy, it is saved until the end of the day. This is a win/lose scenario. The teacher wins because the students leave after they have consumed the sugar, but the bus driver and parent lose as they have to deal with the sugar rush and impending sugar crash. I have experienced the power of sugar personally and have gained a healthy respect for its power. Here is my sugar saga...

My 10 year old brain could simply not comprehend what was sitting on the table in our house. It was a Gingerbread Mansion, and it was beautiful. This confectionary castle was from my uncle’s bakery and he had brought it for the family Christmas. The many roofs of this mansion were shingled with Skittles, M&M’s and Smarties. Jujubes of all colours formed the landscaping. Chocolate squares served as windows. Hershey Kisses served as chimney tops. Chocolate pretzels were turned into fencing. Peppermint paddies were the stepping stones leading up to the Kit-Kat front door. The best part of all though, the pièce de résistance if you will, was the large blobs of white icing that were used to hold everything together.

I don’t know how long I stood gazing upon this house – when a ten year old is in such close proximity to so much sugar, time become irrelevant. All that stood between me and this edible edifice was a thin layer of clear plastic wrapping. It was time for dinner, and I was bodily dragged away from the gingerbread house and from the large pool of drool that had somehow collected at my feet.

My heart was just not into the dinner though. The turkey seemed bland and tasteless (maybe if it had been stuffed with marshmallows it would of have been tastier). I picked my way through the meal and thought of the gingerbread house sitting upstairs all by itself. I used this time to think of what part of the gingerbread house I would eat first. Should I start slow or dive right in? Should I start with the roof, or with the fence? Should I bother with the candies or go right for the frosting? At what point should I start devouring the walls?

Finally dinner was coming to an end. The adults were all leaning back in their chairs, patting their bellies, and some were even loosening their belts. I knew they were done for the night – they would not be taking part in the gingerbread massacre. I looked around the table and spotted some plates that had barely been touched –these belonged to my adversaries. They had wisely chosen to skip the ‘filler’ and wait for the real feast. Coincidentally, they were all around my age. Their eyes darted around the table as well – they were sizing up the competition.

After dinner was over, we all settled in the family room in the basement. The presents were brought down, some hors de oeuvres (not going to fall for that trick) and finally the gingerbread house. It was even more beautiful than I remembered.

While the adults helped themselves to some pathetic little puff pastries, the kids positioned themselves around the gingerbread house. The hunt was afoot.

One of the adults finally had a good idea. “Well, why don’t we let the kids pick at the gingerbread house?” One of the other adults responded “Oh yeah – I almost forgot about the gingerbread house!”

Forgot?! How could you forget about this Taj Mahal of sugary greatness?
One of the adults carefully made their way into the ‘ring of fire’ of candy crazed cousins in order to take the cellophane wrapping off the gingerbread house. It was like watching the launching of the Titanic.

After what seemed like an eternity, the wrapping was clear. This was our signal to attack. I’m not sure if the adult got out of the way in time or not, but the cousins pounced on the house. I decided that using my hands would only slow me down, so I decided to just gnaw on the chimney. After some initial hissing and scratching the cousins all found a piece or corner to devour. This gigantic house was being mown down the same way a cloud of locusts devours a crop, or a flock of buzzards to a carcass.

The feeding frenzy eventually eased up as stomachs were filled to capacity with jujubes, icing and great chunks of gingerbread. I tore off a wall and retreated to a corner of the room to rest and nibble.

The Christmas party was ramped up further by sugar-filled cousins who proceeded to imitate ping pong balls in a cyclone. As time passed by though, the sugar comas’ hit and many of the gingerbread gorgers fell into very deep sleeps. I too could feel the effects from eating an entire Victorian chimney, front porch, and half a roof. I had conditioned myself however and was able to withstand the power of the sugar crash.

It was late and the adults decided to call it a night. They picked up their comatose children who littered the floor and headed out into the wintery night. Before going upstairs to bed, I gave the gingerbread house one last look. The gingerbread house was now just a heap of broken walls, but stilled managed to make my head swim. I headed upstairs and somehow found my bed. Sleep came quickly as did an amazing dream about living in an actual gingerbread house.

I’m not sure what time it was exactly but it was early when I woke up. The gingerbread house was calling me. Like some kind of zombie, I stumbled down to the gingerbread wreckage from the night before. I sat down beside the rubble and began eating. After I had eaten a couple of walls and another chimney I had to stop. My mind was urging me on, but my stomach had other ideas. I began to feel a strange gurgling feeling deep within as if a geyser was about to blow.

I’ll spare you the details, but needless to say, I spent the rest of the day recuperating from my gingerbread house overdose. A year later, my Uncle brought another beautiful Victorian gingerbread mansion to our house. Instead of sending me into a state of ecstasy, shivers ran up and down my spine. That ol’ familiar gurgling erupted again and I decided to retreat to the dinner table. Better stick with the turkey this year...


  1. You are a great writer!!! I laughed my head off the entire time reading this!!! I know what to read when I need a good belly-laugh.

  2. Gingerbread house! Looks so nice and all of these photos are saying a lot about this event. Thanks a lot for the details. Even I am very interested to host a grand pre Christmas bash for the kiddos and their friends. Planning to book event space San Francisco for the first or second weekend in the next month. Hopefully will find a good one on a budget.