Gingerbread House Fail by Noreen Heffernan

Updated: Jan 15, 2019



Some things on my Facebook newsfeed can give me anxiety if I allow it. Currently, it is the gingerbread house. Pictures of perfectly constructed houses with icing and candy decorations. Snap. Click. Send. Upload. Me, cold sweats. I didn’t grow up making gingerbread houses during Christmas and I have lovely memories. Why do I feel pressure to do this? Back in the day, before social media, we could just NOT make a gingerbread house and wouldn’t really know or care if anyone else did. Maybe if we happened to talk to another parent at the pick -up line at school and they happened to mention it, we could say, “Oh that’s great, I bet the kids loved it. We just hung and watched Rudolph by the Christmas tree, it was so nice.” Now, one is better than the next; as if there is a silent competition. I mean, I could probably be the judge since my entry resides only in my heart of good intentions.

It goes along with parenting in 2015 and the pressures we feel to do it perfectly, gingerbread house making kit and all. I know it isn’t just me because I read articles about it. And I know my mom didn’t feel the same pressures that are around today. And my grandma, bless her soul with her 6 kids would just send them outside with helmets and try to survive the day…the week…her life. The only pressure she had was to try and make one pot roast work for a family of 8.

I mean, you know I’m half serious. I can own the fact that I won’t make a gingerbread house. “I’m not crafty,” I say. It is so true. I have never even LOGGED on to Pinterest and I am sure it will stay that way forever. And I’m sure I could get totally into a gluten-free gingerbread house if I desired, but I don’t. I would rather let my kids play with the nativity set while I blog in a corner.

The point of the matter is that we live in a world where gingerbread houses, Elf on the shelf doing a snow angel in the flour, and pictures of the kids on Santa’s lap are the norm and they get embedded in our psyche. They make us feel like we aren’t quite ahead of the game. And at times we feel like we need to keep up. And it especially feels closer and more prominent during the holidays. Well, I’ll raise you a gingerbread house with a homemade Santa sleigh made out of candy canes and kit kats. Bam!

I might feel like this because I have a baby on the move and I don’t really have time for anything. I kind of follow her around and save her from head bumps 50 times a day. If I decided to use nap time to make a gingerbread house, that would be the time she naps for 45 minutes instead of 2 hours. I would prep the whole thing and then look at it on my kitchen table for the next 5 days while my 4 year old begs me to finish it by pulling on my sweatpants as I grab yet another leaf from my baby’s hand. (Don’t ask why there are leaves in my house).

So, that is my point about gingerbread houses. It is not a reality for me. But the real point is not lost on me either. My reality. Our reality. The real point is that we all do what feels right to us for our families. Some of us can make an amazing gingerbread house with our children. Some of us like to snuggle up and watch movies together. Some of us go to see santa. Some of us light the menorah. Some of us rush around last minute to get all the gifts and wrap them the night before. Some of us are organized and some of us are not. But most of us are trying to make magic. And we find our magic and show this magic in different ways. A night in NYC, a Christmas pj party, a cocktail party, a decorated house, an Elf hiding in a stocking, or a beautiful red twirling dress. We make our magic every day and that is evident in our children’s eyes during this season. It is there. Look for it. I’m sure you will see it. And if you do, you know, you’ve done it right so far. So I will walk right by that gingerbread making kit at the grocery store and I will not feel guilty about it. Because when I turn toward my daughter and smile, she will smile back. And when we get back home and pull into our little house with our white lights on the trees, she will say, “I love this time of the year.” To me, that will always be enough.


Noreen Heffernan, Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies.

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