The Gingerbread Manor

It seemed innocent enough.  A $19.99 Gingerbread Manor Kit on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond for $15.99 and somehow I had remembered to bring my $5 off coupon making it fairly reasonable.  I thought it would be a sweet afternoon that Ellee and I could share and she was delighted when I told her we could get it.


And it started off pretty well.  We got the pieces in place and then started the long task of filling in and decorating.  You can’t tell from the pictures, but this thing has sides and a back to it that also required decorating.  The first hint I had that it might be trouble was when the icicles that I was piping looked borderline creepy instead of big and glorious like the picture.


Ellee started out thrilled.  She piped frosting and laid out gumdrop bricks like a pro.  She smiled with delight when her peppermint balls were a little crooked, just like the one in the picture.


But as an hour of decorating turned into hours, I realized we might have gotten a little more than we bargained for.  It could have been that we just aren’t the type of people who should have bought the manor.  We’re probably more “house” type people.


Little by little tensions started rising and culminated into a full out tantrum when I made the decision to cut the shrubs in half but she wanted them to stay fat and uncut (for the record, I did because there is no way that you could fully decorate this thing with the supplies that they gave.  I’m thinking the one in the picture had lots of extras… Just saying) .  Really, truly though, it could have been anything.  But that was where the tears of frustration started flowing.


Add in the fact that Gingerbread house making is kind of a natural disaster of stickiness and frosting everywhere.  I swept the floor three times to try to keep ahead of it, but eventually just gave up.  Having admired everyone’s cute pictures on Instagram, I wondered to myself how they did it.  Because our table ended up looking like this.


We stopped for the night.  Because she was mad and I was mad.  And those are the kinds of things you just don’t see were I to just throw up a finished and cute picture of our Gingerbread manor.  But I’m finding lately that there is this freedom in being real.  And real life is messy.  And at times it’s mad.  But there is beauty in hanging in there and working it all out.  Which is exactly what we did.  I took the time to hear her heart and between you and me, it wasn’t really about the cut trees.  And when she wiped away her mad tears eventually they were replaced with that sweet smile that I love so much.


We finished our Gingerbread manor the next day.  Ellee created a beautiful technique to make the roof snow look amazing.


And she soaked up her dad’s admiration when he stopped by to check out the progress.


And even though the frosting bag sprung a few leaks by the end, a little gorilla duct tape mostly took care or that problem.


And in the end, we finished our Gingerbread manor.  Sure, it took a little blood, sweat and tears, but will always be a reminder for me, that life is not perfect.  It’s messy and doesn’t always look the ways that you want it too.  But if you hang in there and don’t give up, eventually you’ll work it all out with the ones you love and be a little better and a little stronger for having done so.


Merry Christmas week, friends!  If you’re in the middle of the messy and the mad, know that you’re not alone.  Press on, persevere, and shift your focus to the good that can come, even out of the messiest of whatever it is you’re going through.

Written by lauraherr8

I love Jesus, my Youth Pastor Husband and our two beautiful children. I'm a professional photographer and I love people, especially kids. My best days include time with my family, Hot Yoga and a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone.


  1. First of all, I think we have all been there with gingerbread houses and yours looks amazing. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this message today. I was sitting here alone, frustrated and in tears and you reminded me that I am not alone and God sends us what we need. Thank you for your faithfulness.

  2. Oh, my dear young friend, this time of year is full of wonder and glory along with exhaustion and frustration. You shared so beautifully what most of us are living right now. May Jesus continue to shine through.

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