FEATURE: Smells like home

(Contributed photo)

By Rebecca Jones, special to the News-Times

CARTERET COUNTY — Nothing smells like home like the smell of baking; and sugar and spice makes the holidays nice. And making gingerbread houses is both creative as well as tasty. The practice of making gingerbread houses originated for the Europeans and North America in Germany during the 1800’s as German bakers took this form of art to the next step. They based their creation off a very popular fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, “Hansel and Gretel,” where two children were abandoned in a forest before discovering an edible house made of gingerbread and sugar. As the bakers took descriptions of this house from the story, they began to create their own take on a gingerbread house. It has now become a popular tradition during Christmas.

Building a gingerbread house is fun and uses lots of creativity, and now with the world of sweets more available, the creativity is nearly endless for both adults and children. Plus, afterwards, you can eat your creation, something all children greatly appreciate.

Hannah Broadhurst, age 9, is one of those children. Broadhurst says, “My mom got me interested in making gingerbread houses. I also like watching the baking competitions and got ideas from the shows.” Her preschool teacher was the one who got her interested in the local Gingerbread Festival competition. Each child in the preschool class was asked to create a house as part of a Whoville Village. Broadhurst added, “After that year, I looked into entering again. This year will be my fifth year entering the gingerbread contest. In 2020 I won the People’s Choice and Kids Division with my Christmas Horses.” The hardest part last year for her was getting the roof of the horse barn to stick.

Jim and Kelly Stephens participate each year with their children Brayden 17, Cooper 14, Maisy 12 and Bo 10. Kelly says, “I decided to start participating as a family, because we wanted to support the Crystal Coast Hospice House.  Hospice (of Miami County Ohio) assisted my father-in-law (the kiddo’s grandpa) while he was passing away.  One of the hospice workers visiting him at his home brought a variety of handmade quilts and pillows so he could give something to each of the kids before passing.  More than six years later, my kids still have their quilts and pillows.  Our family feels that participating in the gingerbread contest is a small way of giving back.”

The kids decide on their theme, and they enter as teams, so there is usually some negotiating that takes place before they come to an agreement.  Kelly adds,” As my kids get older and have busy schedules of their own, I appreciate this time we get to spend together.  We make a mess, eat lots of gingerbread, probably more icing than you want to know, argue, laugh and sometimes cry when that roof won’t stay up.  However, it is all worth it once the houses are delivered and we get to go see them.  It is the best way to kick off the Christmas season.”

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