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 When one of my photography students recently shared an image about her family’s tradition of making gingerbread houses, she had my attention. Family traditions are important. They build memories, bring families together and add meaning.

A week later I was in Nancy’s home, learning the intricate and detailed craft of making gingerbread houses from her husband and local master, Ray Waters. Each November, Ray dedicates a couple of days to bake enough gingerbread to make several dozen large houses so that family groups and friends can come over to decorate, eat candy, laugh and enjoy an evening together. Why several dozen? Everyone gets to take home their beautiful project, all wrapped up.

Ray and Nancy preassemble the gingerbread houses, complete with roof and shingles, so that the guests can concentrate on the important stuff: eating the candy and sticking some of it on the house. There’s a house rule: three candies on the house for every one in your mouth! And the only other family rule is not to eat the completed works of art until after New Year’s Day.

It all started when Ray’s daughter was about 7.  And now her own 7-year-old daughter gets to share in the fun plus many other siblings, cousins and friends. It’s one of those family traditions that is anticipated and loved by all. And what do Ray and Nancy do when the table is surrounded by all the busy gingerbread house builders? They sit back and enjoy the sounds of Christmas.

What could be better than spending time like this with your Grampa?
It takes about two hours to decorate a gingerbread house. And you can see by the dishes on the table, there’s a lot of different candy decorations to choose from.
The candies taste as good as they look!
The tradition started when Lisa was just 7. Now, it’s shared with her daughter.
When the decorating is done, it’s time to celebrate. And look forward to the tasty treats to come.


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