Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hansel and Gretel never had it so good

Take away the spineless woodcarver, the nasty stepmother and the wicked witch, last Saturday the American Gothic House Center was a place where Hansel and Gretel would have been comfortable—and without the threat of being abandoned and eaten.

Not exactly lost in the woods, children from all over flocked to the Center to build their own Gingerbread House without fear of being shoved into a cage to fatten or thrown into an oven. Arguably the best way to build a gingerbread house.

For the whole of the afternoon children, along with their parents (who showed no signs of leaving them to fend for themselves as the father in the fairy tale did) streamed through the front doors and were met by a line of volunteers ready to dole out the building materials: graham crackers, a plethora of candy including gum drops, mints, life savers, chocolate chips, red hots, M&Ms, pretzels, marshmallows, and, of course, plenty of frosting.

A word needs to be said here about the frosting. Anyone who has had the pleasure of decorating a cake or cookies with small children knows that frosting can be problematic. Instead of being applied to the given confection in a neat and orderly fashion, many times the frosting gets sidetracked to a head of hair, stuck in an ear (especially of there is a brother and sister involved) or fed to the dog. In short, any spot but the intended one. Not so at the Center on Saturday. Instead, each child was issued a plastic bag full of frosting with the corner cut out just enough to lay a thin bead of frosting on the intended target leaving little or no mess. Amazing. Who ever came up with this idea should be nominated for the volunteer of the year, or just really smart person of the year.

Once the supplies were in hand the young builders found a place at one of the many tables scattered throughout the Center and began the task of constructing a unique gingerbread creation.

At times, especially among adults, there is a tendency to lump all children together. After all, they are just kids and there has not been enough years pass for them to develop and hone distinct personalities and skills. When watching these builders, however, nothing could be farther from the truth, as a unique personality and talent could be observed in each young engineer.

Some builders were ever-so-serious and strove for meticulous detail, going for quality over quantity as far as various accoutrements. Others wanted to make sure their house had as much candy stuck to it as possible, while others were more into landscaping, ensuring there was a paved candy sidewalk leading to the house and bushes made of lifesavers and topped with frosting. Could one of these children be the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Frederick Law Olmstead? Perhaps.

As with any activity involving young children, mounds of sticky frosting, dozens of pieces of candy and brittle graham crackers, it can be assured there would be plenty of work for the clean-up crew. Surprisingly—or perhaps not considering the organization of the event—with upwards to 70 children building houses, there was nothing left over except cracker dust and a few drops of errant frosting. As a bonus, nobody threatened to eat the children, as there were no wicked witches among the volunteers.

There is one other parallel to Grimm’s fairy tale. By the looks of the children leaving the Center with their house proudly displayed on the aluminum foil-covered cardboard with parents in tow—they very well could live happily ever after.

Brian Chambers
Media Coordinator
American Gothic House Center

The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenue, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to match the Iowa Cultural Trust Endowment Challenge Grant and will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the puzzle pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 |

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