Through Christmas Failure Comes Inner Peace…kinda

It seemed like a great idea.  My brother’s girlfriend suggested we have a gingerbread house making contest.  Then we decided to have my aunt judge it when the extended family got together.  We’d make them Christmas Day while we were all together.  P and I decided a lighthouse would be a great idea.  We had thoughts about the decoration and everything.  Sounds like fun, huh?  I thought so until the logistics started coming together in my mind.

Side Note: I really hope this in no way offends my brother’s girlfriend.  I really wish I had her baking acumen.  She is one of those amazing people that can wake up at 4am and then bake amazing stuff after work and graduate school classes.  Love her!

I was already stressed beyond belief for a hundred reasons other than the Christmas season but that is for another post.  Even though I quit Lottery Yarn and was looking forward to my first holiday in six years without a retail schedule in addition to a regular day job to worry about, it seemed like there was still no time to finish everything (being away for Thanksgiving and then being diagnosed with walking pneumonia probably didn’t help).  My wrapping sucked, my gift ideas were not as creative as usual and my cooking was suffering.  So with Christmas day fast approaching, I was feeling the additional stress of making a gingerbread house.  I ended up making gingerbread dough at 11pm on Christmas Eve – two batches.  I woke up bleary eyed and exhausted at 8am to begin our day.

When I checked in with my Mom’s house, my brother informed me that they were going to do theirs on the 26th since technically it was not due until the 27th.  I felt a wave of relief wash over me.  I had another day!  The dough could chill in the fridge for another day, no problem.  We could do it on my day off and I could enjoy Christmas with my family and relax a little bit – never an easy task for me.

The gingerbread dough mocked me from inside the fridge the next morning as I grabbed the cream for my coffee.  It sat there, two mean lumps of flour, sugar and molasses.  I finally pulled it out to soften before rolling it out.  I gave it a good 20 minutes and began trying to roll it into the requisite quarter inch round.  I have never worked with such and unfriendly mound of dough.  It was hard, it cracked, it tore at the parchment paper, taking me another 20 minuets to roll it out so that I would have an area large enough to cut out one of the 4 sides of the lighthouse.  P even tried to help and declared it a nightmare.  I continued rolling and cutting most of the afternoon.  When I finally had the 4 pieces rolled, cut and baked, I checked them to see if they were true enough to stand together.  They were awful.  There wasn’t enough royal icing in the world to help us.  I finally had the meltdown that I could see coming from before Christmas Day.

In between retching sobs I asked, “Why can’t I do this?! Other people can bake and shop and wrap and get everything done.  Why is it impossible for me to do this?  Every year it just seems like I am falling on my face.”  I felt like such a failure.  I think I had less to do this year but felt like it was double because of everything else that had been going on in my life this month.  I sobbed and rubbed my eyes  till I saw stars.  I finally made the call to my Mom’s house and told them that the blobs of dough had beaten me.  I could not make a gingerbread house in time.  No one was upset (except me) no one judged me (except me) and no one thought I was a complete slacker failure (except me).

As soon as I got off the phone I cried a little more and then stopped.  After a few minutes I sighed with relief.  P and I put away all the candy we bought to decorate the gingerbread house (on a high shelf so I would be less tempted to eat it).  I sighed a couple more times to let it sink in that there was  something off my plate.  Finally my shoulders came down from around my ears and I stopped wringing my fingers.  I stopped wondering how strange it would look for me to be the only one without a gingerbread house to present (ok, I am still worried about that).  I  still worried that I was just being a lazy, slacker but then it hit me -  I am not a gingerbread house person and that is OK.

The realization was life affirming.  I am not a gingerbread house person!  I am a tie things with pretty bows and wrap presents Lottery Yarn style and make food that can be eaten person!  Damn the gingerbread house dough and bring on the decadent cheese plate, artfully presented by yours truly.  Bring on the recipes for apps and main courses and sides for me to do and then reinvent.  That is ME and right now it is about all I can handle.

I hope you all are cool with that because I am trying REALLY hard to be.

New candy shelf.