Ross: The dark paradox of building a gingerbread house
I spent very little time reading up on current issues while I was out of town, and so I have no opinions of any value to share with you this morning.
But I can report that I did help a four-year-old build a gingerbread house.
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Gingerbread houses officially became a thing because of Hansel and Gretel – but I suspect the real reason is that whoever discovered gingerbread quickly realized no one would actually want to eat it, so why not build something with it?
I can tell you this – the idea that a gingerbread house is an activity for young children is fundamentally flawed because the four-year-old grandchild I was assisting seemed to have very little interest in the finished product. She really did try to play along with the idea that we were building a house, but as we were putting it together, she got some of the icing on her fingers, and from that moment, she was more interested in eating the construction materials than providing housing.
This, by the way, is the very problem that the Brothers Grimm were documenting in Hansel and Gretel – so it’s nothing new.
Anyway, I quickly realized I would have to take over the project because she was insisting on an oral inspection of every piece before deciding whether it met the project specifications.
This is the dark paradox of the gingerbread house: that, to a small child, the whole is actually less than the sum of its parts.
She would look at a decoration and say something like, “papa, can we eat this?” and I would have to explain, “no, that’s a load-bearing wall…”
And as the inventory shrinkage got worse and worse, it was time for one of us to take a nap.
I then used a couple of soup cans as flying buttresses to save the roof and made sure the leftover icing was responsibly recycled.
And by the time the nap was over – well, the house no longer seemed to matter because the doors don’t open, you can’t rearrange the furniture inside, and it had nothing to do with Princess Elsa, Bluey, or Paw Patrol.
When Grandma and I left to go home, the house was safely out of reach on the kitchen counter. And I expect it will remain there until it’s too stale for human consumption.
And then, since no one will have the stomach to eat it, nor the heart to throw it out, it will be taken deep into the woods, and left there, which is very sad. But – for some mean old witch – that will be her lucky day.
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