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Layers of Yule spirit

“You are a cheater and you cheat,” said son Dylan.

“I am not a cheater,” said cousin Ashton.

“We did not cheat,” said Ashton’s friend  Crystal. “You said there weren’t any rules.”

“Once the competition started,” squawked Dylan. “You built half of your house … barn … whatever it is before you got here.”

It’s the Annual Gingerbread House Building Contest and the competitors are at each other’s throats hurling insults and gumdrops.

Somehow this helps promote Christmas cheer, or so they tell me before they take a swipe at each other’s house.

“Are you sure that is even gingerbread?” said Dylan.

“Looks like plywood to me,” chimes in his sister Sara Beth, who is making a miniature gingerbread village with her partner Ana Tomas.

“It is not plywood,” said Ashton. “It is a gingerbread farm. Since Crystal and I are agriculture teachers it seemed appropriate.”

“You’re still a cheater.”

“Am not.”

“Are to.”

Christmas cheer is filling the air.

“I quit,” said Caitlyn Dugger as all four of her walls collapse the moment she tries to put on the roof.

“You can’t quit,” said her mama Cathy Crews. “I’ll help you and Gary.”

The spirit of Christmas cooperation.

“What? You can’t help her. I need you here. We’re making peanut brittle shingles,” said her partner Cheryl Hart.

The spirit of Christmas cooperation quashed.

“You bit the head off my snowman,” said Dylan.

“No I didn’t. That was a spare marshmallow,” said his partner Sarah Davis.

“Sarah, we’re trying to win this thing and you’re eating my snowman.”

“Is that an outhouse?” said Ashton.

“That is not an outhouse,” said Sara Beth, offended. “I’ll have you know that is the cathedral for our gingerbread village.”

“Looks like an outhouse to me.”

“And what is that in your farm?”

“That’s a wagon made out of sugar wafers.”

“What’s in it?” asked Sara Beth.

“Hay,” said Crystal.

“Looks like chicken manure.”

“Hey!”

“Stop eating my snowmen.”

“I think we’re pushing the rules this year after last year’s candle fiasco,” said Sara Beth.

“You have to admit that was pretty darned awesome,” said Cheryl.

“Until your house caught on fire and had to be doused with water.”

In last year’s competition, Cheryl cut out the windows, covered them with paper and put a lit candle inside the house for added affect. It was very impressive until we had to call out the gingerbread fire brigade.

I just want you to understand that I have no stake in this contest. I am merely a chronicler like Mark Twain or Alexander Pope.

My bunch is incredibly competitive. They get it from their Mama who has been known to mope around all day after losing a game of Scrabble. Her progeny have been known to sweep all the tiles off a Scrabble board if they lose. So I choose not to compete. I’m a neutral observer, like Switzerland.

“I think our farm looks pretty good,” said Crystal.

“For manufactured housing,” quips Dylan.

“Doesn’t it look good Uncle Bob?” asked Ashton.

“I’m Switzerland.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

There’s a lot of laughter going on in our dining room. A lot of good natured ribbing and plenty of creativity. It’s a fun time.

It’s become something of a Christmas tradition in our house and though I’m not Bob the Builder and prefer to sit back and watch the competitors at work, I still enjoy it a lot.

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