Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Linking with Beverly's PINK SATURDAY.  

From LAWN TEA BLOG,  December, 2008

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Today’s the day---the First Sunday In December---forever to be known in our family as Cookie House Day. Not Gingerbread Houses---no baking involved, and the scope and variety of cookies and decorations knew only the bounds of the local Sunflower, Kroger, and Fred’s Dollar Store. We bought whatever took our fancy---salty or sweet, just so the shapes were interesting, or they LOOKED like part of a Witch’s Architecture. Or a Fairy's, perhaps even a Gnome's. We used candy corn for window-trim and pretzels for fences or tiny sugar-dusted shredded wheat pillows for thatching---anything goes in a child’s eyes, especially one armed with a big cup of sugar frosting. Imagination is ALL.

We'll have a very small version this year, at our breakfast table, with only one little girl and a pair of one-year-olds to participate. So we'll have safe candies and their kinds of cookies and a lot of help from Moms and Dads and us Grandparents. And probably baths in the pink TeleTubs for the two small ones.

The first year---the late Seventies, I think, we started out with about five little ones from our tiny church, who came over after Sunday Dinner, and we made up the rules as we went along. Pretty much, the rules were: You had to be three, or no older than twelve. Past participants were welcome to come and assist the little ones in their own creations.

I had cut little cardboard patterns, maybe 9x9x7 boxy shapes with two triangular peaks, duct-taped the forms together from the inside, then taped those to thick cardboard squares, a couple of inches bigger all around to make room for a little lawn or woodpile or some Christmas trees (or a moat---that's what I'd opt for). 

Sorry---that outburst was surely caused by endless afternoons in close proximity to twenty or so three-to-six-year-olds with unlimited access to sugar.

On the long bar, paper plates of all kinds of "bought" cookies and candies and pretzels, gumdrops and canes and crackers stood ready. I usually made a gallon of the butter/powdered sugar/flavoring frosting we used for birthday cakes, but for this one, I always used a drop or two of orange extract and a tiny sprinkle of salt, so all that finger-licking wouldn't be so overpoweringly sweet.

Each child got a paper plate or platter, to choose all the building materials and attach them to the roof first---it was a rectangle a bit wider and longer than the housetop; the hangover made neat eaves for applying icicles. A gentle score down the center, and the flat board bent in the middle to set neatly onto the house. The finished roof dried while the house was decorated.

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Everyone also got a plastic punch cup filled with icing, and a small plastic spatula for spreading. You could smear it on the cardboard and attach stuff, or smear the backs of the cookies to attach, or however you could fulfil your dreamhouse. And when, at time for icicles and other decor, we handed each a filled decorating cone, eyes widened and faces lit up even brighter. Children just LOVE being trusted with pleasant grownup tasks, and this was not the TIME for "no, you can't do this; it's too messy." They strewed icing with merry abandon. Licking fingers and arms for stray icing, even an experimental squeeze into an open mouth---that's what the BIG bowl of homemade dill pickles and the bowls of salty pretzels and all those pitchers of ice water were for.

When all was finished, handfuls of the leftovers, the broken cookies, the unused candy, pretzels and other edibles, all were distributed inside the houses, and the roofs were set on, the weight of icing and cookie-shingles keeping them in place. We made pictures, Mamas returned to carry the sticky carpenters home, and we cleaned the kitchen. And I never waxed my floors for the holidays until after the party.

After about the third time, several adults requested to come make a house for their dining tables or for an upcoming party in their home, or to relive or just LIVE some childhood moments once again. So several years, we had a wine-and-cheese party on Saturday night; everybody brought bags of goodies to decorate with, I made the icing and cardboard forms, and when it was over, they all helped clean up and set out the decorations for the children the next day.

This got to be so popular over the years, we had people calling in October to reserve a place, and we finally had to move it to the Fellowship Hall of the Church. Several Moms in other churches around the county called for instructions; I gave out the icing recipe, drew them the pattern, and they started having parties of their own.

I haven’t been there for Christmas in years---I wonder if they still do. And I really hope some of the children remember.

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Kathy said...

What a lovely memory. I did "Gingerbread" houses with my Sunday School one year using graham crackers. What a mess but what fun.

Latane Barton said...

What very special memories. I love the houses. They are all different and in different stages of the game. Appears that some were about eaten up. Those are the best kind.

BeachGypsy said...

Loved this post and the pictures!!--every one of them unique, just like each who made it! Ya know...I don't think I've EVER EVER made one of these!?--it sure looked fun! How are you doing, my friend, and do you have a big weekend coming up?

Chesapeake said...

Used to do cookie villages with the kids, using the flat raisin-filled cookies for the walls & other assorted cookies all over. The memorable year was the one when the Royal Icing was carefully covered while we took some kind of break. I think the kids were around 11 & 6. When we got back to making the "rock walkway," don't you know there were absolutely NO purple Skittles? A confession of guilt came roughly 30 years later...

Love this tradition!

Val said...

What a sweet tradition, Rachel. I can't imagine a child's not remembering that. How fun for you all. ♥

Mother of 3 said...

Aw these are SO CUTE! We never had much luck trying to make candy, gingerbread or even pretzel log cabins growing up so when my boys came along we turned to kits. They don't like the gingerbread anyway just all the candy so we make our own frosting, buy lots of extra bags of candy and decorate away!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite Christmas pictures (and memories) is of Chuck with the house he made at your party. He was so proud!! I'll always remember how sweet it felt knowing how happy he was to have participated :-)

Kim S. said...

Wonderful tradition. I love your stories of being encouraged to cook and in turn encouraging your children to cook. Having seen the results with yours, I wish I'd been better about that and not so worried about messes. I know I'd be a better grandmother than I was a mom!!!