Friday 22 December 2023

The Gingerbread House by Sally Storr, to be consumed with hot rum toddy and gingerbread

‘Just keep hold of that wall and don’t, whatever you do, let go!’ orders Terry.

‘I’m trying.' I shout.

‘ It’s really hard when you have to manoeuvre across me. It’s like that game – what was it called? Twister! Move it forward a bit so that I don’t have to lean as far in.’ I add.

Terry is poised, ready to pounce with his specially prepared squirty tool.

‘It’s not working.  The door is caving in.  Quick, cement it, I’ll just keep holding on.’ I add in a panicky voice.

Something magical suddenly happens.  The roof and walls are sticking together, and I’m able to let go. We both stare at it. We daren’t even blink.

‘Don’t move an inch.  Just wait and see’, Terry directs.

As we continue gawking in silence the clock is ticking loudly away.  I dare to take a breathe  after thirty seconds and there is a loud sound of relief.

‘Oh no, the back door is falling off.’ I say nervously.

‘And the wall is starting to cave, Terry adds.

‘Hopefully the children won’t notice if we angle it right.  I’ll put lots of sweeties in the hole’. I say.

The house is clean, tidy and decorated. Tick.  The fridge is full of chicken nuggets, chips, and all the yucky things they like to eat.  Tick.  We are dressed, ready and waiting for our big Christmassy weekend.

I send a text to Sophie.

‘Just to warn you the house is a bit of a mess (sad emoji)’

She replies immediately.

‘Yours or gingerbread?’

She soon sends another text.

‘Just stopping for nappies at Tesco.’

I hope it holds. My fingers are in a permanent crossed position.

The doorbell rings.  All the outside Christmas lights are shining brightly amid the dark, dismal rainy afternoon, the trees are decorated, and the table is laid ready for our special family tea.

‘Granny Sally!’ shouts Izzie excitedly and rushes round the house to check the decorations, scrutinizing the details as she goes.  Little Max is delayed slightly by trying to ease off his wellies and force his onesie off.  He gives up trying and just carries on walking with them half on, half off.  Max follows at a short distance, echoing Izzie’s “umms” and “aaghs” as he goes.  He can’t resist picking up several of the Christmas gnomes and baubles as he passes them.  They happen to be just at his height if he stretches his arm to its full extent.

‘Well’, says Izzie, glancing round like a colonel inspecting his troops.

‘Where is it?  Mummy says you’ve been working hard on building it.’

‘Oh, do you mean the gingerbread house?’ I ask.

‘What else?’ Izzie replies.

 ‘I’ve been waiting sooooooo long as you had to cancel the Halloween party.  You were going to make a spooky haunted gingerbread house but had to cancel because you had Covid…again.’

‘Where is it?  Where is it?’ she cries and dashes around again, followed by her little brother and two spaniels who are eager to join in the action, especially if food is involved, which is usually is when small children visit.

We are interrupted by a loud rumbling noise, followed by a pungent smell.

‘I’ve done a pooh.  I’ve done a pooh’, enthuses Mac.

‘Oh no, what a stinker,’ says his sister.

‘Granny, you have to praise him.  He’s learning to tell us.’ she tells me, momentarily distracted from the hunt for the gingerbread house.

There’s an action filled five minutes as mum and dad search round for the nappy bag, pin their son to the floor, thrusting a giant plastic dinosaur into his hands to keep him busy while they take care of the poohnami at the other end of the child.

Izzie holds her nose and talks to Max while he undergoes a thorough cleansing.

‘You’re going to be very, very happy when you see the gingerbread house’, she promises.

Terry and I take deep breaths while we prepare for disappointment.

There’s no holding back now.  Everyone is ready.

‘It’s here.’ I announce as the family gathers expectantly in the kitchen door. 

‘I just covered it up to keep it moist,’ I tell them.

All eyes are on the silver foil as I roll it back gently.

For a moment, there is silence as everyone focuses on the house with a hole in it.

‘Why’s there a hole in it?’ asks Izzie.

Terry and I stare at each other, thinking about a suitable response.  Terryclears his throat and says,

‘It’s because the electrician couldn’t come back and finish the job  before Christmas, he was too busy.’

‘Am-az-ing!’ says Izzie, her eyes shining brightly.

‘Am-ab-ing!’ echoes Max and puts his hand out, newly washed, to poke at one of the windows.

‘It doesn’t matter.  We’re going to smash it to bits and eat it anyway.’ says Izzie.

And with that, the children brace themselves for the effort ahead, clench their fists and then take immense delight in hitting and slamming the gingerbread house as if their lives depended on it. Bits of gingerbread fly everywhere, and even the spaniels are loving it.

‘Delicious’, announces Izzie.

‘Dericious’, nods Max in agreement.

About the author

Sally Storr is a psychologist and works as a coach to university students.  She has always been equally fascinated by human behaviour and by figures from literature.  She’s been writing all her life but especially enjoys writing about quirky situations. It makes a nice change from studying real people.


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