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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and (Gingerbread) Men

Lucia Paul had a party for a class full of kindergartners, only to find that her idea was as stale as a gingerbread house in February. Luckily, she had other tricks up her (sugary) sleeve! Read more from Lucia on her blog, Dysfunctional Scrapbooking

The Best  Laid Plans of Mice and Gingerbread Houses

I miss parenting little children during Christmas: going to see Santa at the mall, buying all the fun stocking stuffers, rather than travel sized shaving cream and deodorant.

Who doesn’t like to meander down the aisles and look at all the ornaments and toys? I certainly do, if I’m careful to avoid the candy aisle and any gingerbread house kits. Those seemingly jolly items give me flashbacks of the best Christmas intentions gone awry. When my oldest and at the time only child was in kindergarten, I wanted to have the whole kindergarten over to make mini gingerbread houses.

I had read an article about using graham crackers, individual milk cartons, frosting and candy to make darling mini gingerbread houses. Visions of sugar plums and success danced in my head. This will be a memory for everyone! Sure, I’m about as crafty as Kim Kardashian, but this looks simple! Please note that Kim Kardashian did not exist back then. She existed, but not as we know her now. I actually probably thought, I’m about as crafty as Pamela Sue Anderson. It was the 90s, after all.

Because I am of the school “Be the kind of hostess you’d appreciate if you were the guest,” I had thoughtfully put on each invitation, “Parents are welcome to stay. Or feel free to drop off at 1pm and pick up at 4pm.”

The glamorous and festive atmosphere of our basement was the venue for the afternoon. There was nothing they could do to that 1926 basement that I couldn’t vacuum, scrub or throw away. The party was scheduled for the first Saturday in December and my daughter got off the bus that Friday, full of excitement. She clutched a square of silver cardboard to which was attached, yes, you’re right, a mini gingerbread house made of graham crackers.

This was the whole purpose of the party! What was I going to do with twenty 5 and 6 year olds when the thing that was supposed to keep them busy and happy had been done the day before? I called my friend who had agreed to help the next day. She was childless at the time, and had positive energy and ideas. “Don’t worry about it! We’ll figure something out.” Says her.

The next day, all the parents took me up on my offer to drop and run. I had set up small tables covered in plastic tablecloths and put one milk carton and supplies at each place. A CD (the 90s, people!) was playing the soothing sounds of The Ray Conniff Singers Christmas. I had pre-bribed everyone with a small candy cane and a juice box. We were about 20 minutes into the 3-hour ordeal, I mean party. And then it began…

“We did this yesterday.” “I have one of these.” And the dreaded, “Can I call my mom to come get me?” I had promised those parents a childfree 3 hours on a Saturday in the month of December, and by God, no one was calling their mother! My friend, the childless one, shouted out, “Wrestling! Everyone get ready to wrestle! We are going to make a line up the stairs. When it’s your turn, jump from that opening in the railing onto the couch and we’ll match you up.”

Not only was this party in the era pre-DVD and pre-Evite, it was also clearly pre-litigation. The children fell in with this impromptu plan happily. Ultimate Fighting was not a sport at the time, but it was that day in my basement. Children were eagerly leaping from the not-up-to-city-code opening in the railing and onto the couch to wait their turn. All the tables and gingerbread supplies had been pushed to the walls. Being the holiday season, we did not allow hair pulling, eye gouging or other infractions. Other than that, anything went. No one made a gingerbread house and everyone had a swell time.

At 4:01pm, I handed each sweaty, disheveled child to his or her bewildered parents. The era of Cage Fighting: Youth Edition came to an end that day. A tradition was not born, but my days of planning holiday parties for the whole class died peacefully. I guess you could say we made lemonade out of lemons, or a holiday party out of a broken stair railing and a basement floor.







Lucia Paul

Lucia Paul is a writer who has contributed to numerous online publications including the Erma Bombeck Writer’s website and, on topics ranging from the financial crisis to parenting teens. Her writing is in multiple anthologies including That’s Paris: Life, Love, and Sarcasm in the City of Light (2015), Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness-Stories by Sleepy Moms (2014), Not Your Mother's Book...on Home Improvement (2013), Not Your Mother's Book...on Being a Mom (2014). She blogs at Dysfunctional Scrapbooking. Find her on Twitter: @DFscrapbook

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