Somehow we managed to get to 20 years of gingerbread without really realizing it. Having started as a small get-together with a few friends back in high school and progressing to an all time high of sixty something people last year there has been a lot of change over the years and I'm not just talking about the quantities of candy consumed. This year the final tally was a quiet 41. Some of the original group still make it out (looking at you John) and people still make houses (sometimes). The big shift now is that we are starting to watch our kids make stuff instead of making stuff for them. Elizabeth surprised us by quite competently and calmly working away on a house of her own (using pieces she coopted from others...) creation for a couple of hours with very little input or assistance from her parents. Shout out to various encouraging adults definitely due here (looking especially at Heather, Renée, Simon and Hayley here!) Most of the younger kids have been sticking to making flat cookies and then covering them in copious quantities of candy. While fun this doesn't make for epic creations that rival those of the early years. With several of the kids moving into three dimensional realm we are hopeful that this will swing back the other way. This year we also had a number of regulars who for various reasons couldn't make it and a whole pile of neighbours (some new and many of whom we are only just starting to really get to know) who could make it. It was really nice that a lot of the people knew each other, other than by virtue of seeing each other every year at gingerbread.
It was also the first year that Elizabeth had friends that came without any supervising adults. Adi, Elizabeth and Mila all decorated elephants, designed courtesy of Aunt Heather. There was a moment of wildness when I wondered what we had done but the kids settled down and after that they played more or less nicely. The house was still standing in the end; always a mark of success. Besides, it turns out that even 41 people including four infants and hordes of children six and under still don't make as much of a mess as 6 teenagers did when making gingerbread unsupervised for the very first time. The real mystery is why my mother let us use her kitchen again the following year!
Matthew enjoyed himself very much. He apparently literally climbed on the table, and then used the time honoured toddler decorating technique as follows: Choose candy after taste testing to be sure it is good. Glue candy to a cookie. Remove candy from cookie and pop into mouth. Repeat.
I was surprised there weren't more cookies with a Star Wars theme, but John's tie fighter was awfully cute. Just needed a wookie... Maybe a few baby ewoks... But then I think Wookies and Ewoks would make a positive addition to any movie (don't tell me about the new Star Wars though; haven't seen it yet!) My favourite creation this year was probably Auntie Janice's chocolate covered owl. Tinfoil core, marmalade ears, chocolate paint... What's not to love? A close second was Catherine's Rubik's cube. Her son's obsession with that piece of plastic is directly responsible for Elizabeth's newfound interest! I was also amused when Noemie's creation didn't work so she rescued it by adding much candy and calling it modern art.
Oh and thing we are holding is my chocolate covered gingerbread baby. And yes the baby is doing what you think she is doing... After nearly seven months of cleaning spit up we decided that this needed to be properly immortalized.