The Gingerbread Shanty

The model

Few things during the holiday season are as messy, frustrating, and pointless as building a gingerbread house. Yet for some reason, every freaking year, I buy one at the store so I can torture myself and share profanity later. I wish I had an explanation for this annual phenomenon, but I don’t. Let’s just chalk it up to selective holiday memory.

This year, I decided to switch out the traditional gingerbread house for a gingerbread village. The box depicted a lovely, snow-covered tableau with a river running through a small, idyllic gingerbread wonderland. How hard could it be? The buildings were tiny. Certainly I could build tiny gingerbread cottages even if I hadn’t exactly been successful with gingerbread colonials, right? Besides, they looked so cute on the box.

This morning I dug out the box I have been avoiding since I purchased it weeks ago. I put on my most positive attitude and got to building. I knew things were going south when the tiny gingerbread pieces were breaking as I tried to separate them. Still, undaunted, I continued in my quest. I patched pieces together, threatening to pull out my glue gun if necessary. And, even when the plastic icing bag with the perfectly sized decorating tip sprang a leak and started spewing frosting like a punctured artery I soldiered on. Nothing was going to stop me from this sordid holiday tradition, dammit.

When I had three tiny houses sloppily pieced together, hubby decided to join in the fun. He built a house and planned to add it to my village after initial construction. Essentially he was going to deliver a double-wide into the landscape of my charming, middle class community. He insisted it was cuter than any of my houses, so I decided to humor him. We carefully lowered it onto a small plot in my already crowded village. It sat there for just a minute before it started collapsing in on itself. The walls listed. The roof caved. The entire building crumbled, presumably due to shoddy and hasty construction. Steve tried desperately to fix it. He attempted to push the walls back into place. I told him this is what happens when you try to subvert the system and refuse to pull permits before building. I declared the building condemned.

Still, it seemed a little sad to have spent an hour working on my village only to have it end in inexplicable disaster. Then I saw him. Lego Santa. Certainly if anyone could make things better, it had to be the man in the red suit. Maybe he could get his elves to build a Habitat House in place of the double wide?

“Work your magic, Santa,” I begged. “We need a Christmas miracle.”

Oh no! Santa!!!!


As if my prayer to St. Nick had been answered, a flawless plan to fix this debacle dawned on me. I tossed Santa under the rubble and turned our gingerbread village into the scene of horrific holiday tragedy. The unstable shanty had collapsed under the weight of the fat man himself. As Santa and his overstuffed pack lay under the remains of the decimated double wide, I sipped my latte with smug self-satisfaction. I diverted one holiday disaster by creating another. After all, the holidays aren’t about perfection. They’re about spending time with family, creating memories. We will always remember this year, the year Steve’s double wide collapsed and Santa saved the day.

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