Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tradition

I had been promising the kids that we would decorate gingerbread men for about a week, and so I decided that we would do it yesterday. So, Friday night I made the cookie dough before we went out for dinner, and when we got home I pulled it out of the refrigerator and baked the cookies. I wanted to have them all ready to go Saturday for the decorating extravaganza.

Gracie woke me Saturday morning asking of she could have gingerbread men for breakfast. We finally compromised with eggs and toast, with the promise that we would decorate the men soon. I whipped together the royal icing, and put all of the candy decorations in bowls. I gave a quick lesson on how to pipe the icing without having it squish out of the wrong end. (Wasted time, my friends..wasted time).

Then I left them to it. I reined in my desire to hover, point out mistakes and help them "do it right". Sadly, I have to rein myself in frequently while doing projects with the kids. Like when Gracie covered the face of one of her men with sixlets. Isn't the point of decorating the cookies to make them look like people? I don't know anyone with 9 eyes, and I was hard pressed to leave that one alone. I contented myself with the thought that although her little man looked like an alien, she was exercising her imagination.

After the mess from the cookie decorating was cleaned up, the kids and I were looking at the ornaments on the tree. Our tree is a hodge-podge of ornaments ranging from hand-painted salt dough to beautiful crystal. I still have the salt dough ornaments that I painted when I was 4 years old, and the stuffed felt dove that I carefully sewed together in 5th grade. I have a blue glass ball that was on my parent's first Christmas tree when they were newly married. The delicate snowflakes that my grandmother crocheted for me sway gently in the boughs. Ornaments from Italy, Pensacola, Alexandria and Comfort. Each one has a story, and each one is dear to me.

The kids seemed particularly interested in the salt dough ornaments that I made as a child, so I decided to make a batch for us to paint. While Gracie was taking her nap, I baked them and then Nathan and I put a base coat of paint on each one. When Gracie woke up, we had the best time painting together! She was all about using every, single color of paint that I had and using generous amounts of each one. Nathan carefully thought out what he wanted to do, and then executed it with artistry.

As we sat there painting and laughing together, I took a snapshot in my mind. I know that in years to come, when they are no longer here to help me decorate, I can pull it out and remember how we spent one sweet afternoon in December. And they will be decorating their trees with the old, hand-made ornaments and telling the story to their children. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire them to bake a new batch and continue the tradition.

8 comments:

Mocha with Linda said...

That is so sweet. I can just picture y'all doing that. And kudos to you for being ambitious enough to do both of those activities in one day!

luvmy4sons said...

Aawh! Way to go mom! I have some hand painted ornament I made in high school! Ours is a hodge podge too! We have never done a gingerbread house!

Karen said...

Your tree sounds beautiful and filled with memories. I'm impressed that you did both projects in one day, too!

The Small Scribbler said...

It's the mark of a good mother to rein in the tendency toward perfection and just let them create. Good for you. Looks like it was a great day!

Kate

The family said...

What a wonderful afternoon. I am sure that they will remember this for many years to come.

Totallyscrappy said...

Hodge-podge Christmas trees are the best!!

Jill said...

It is always refreshing to read about your life in Texas, it so resembles mine with a few differences. It is fun, I too many times, hold back on the do it this way saga, sometimes I fail. Love the salt dough, we might jump on that one. We usually do the cinnamon and applesauce ones, but they are hard to paint.

TulipGirl said...

So fun!

One year, our little tree had gingerbread ornaments, candy canes and red bows on it. . . And as Christmas approached, it had a decreasing number of gingerbread and candy canes. . .