Throughout my childhood we had a fun tradition of making a gingerbread village - complete with church with stain glass windows, lights, skating pond, people and several houses. It was all set up on a large board that covered the entire top of our piano. And, to my candy-loving young self it was Divine! I loved it.
And so most years I have tried to make sure my boys have had the chance to have their own gingerbread houses. We've never had a whole village but we have at least had one handmade house and sometimes a couple of them. This year, while discussing ways to simplify the holidays (with the purpose of freeing up more time to spend doing the things we really value - time with friends, family and nature), we had talked about gingerbread houses and the boys had decided that they liked the plain old candy (a rare treat around here) as much as they did the gingerbread house making and so we had concluded that we wouldn't do gingerbread houses this year.
Then one evening I was sharing this information with a friend as we talked about how different the holiday season felt compared to when our kids were younger. After she left I went and talked to E a bit more about it and he decided that it was, after all, important to him to make a house. So we decided we would simply buy an already cut and baked gingerbread house (instead of spending a few days making the dough, rolling it and cutting out house patterns and then baking) thus meeting our want for this traditional treat as well as our need for simplifying.
The next afternoon I quickly put the bought house together with melted sugar and then the boys spent an hour filled with laughter, royal icing, sticky fingers and taste-testing while they decorated their house. Gingerbread Houses Simplified...leaving more time for a walk in the winter woods with friends - lovely.