Courage at Twilight: Sledding and Gingerbread Houses

My ten-year-old hot-desert-weather Arizona niece Amy came to visit for the New Year holiday week, bringing my sister Jeanette with her. The night their airplane arrived (actually one o’clock in the morning), a dark wall of low purple clouds dumped six inches of new powder on the valley, just in time for Amy to take us sledding.  Jeanette had dug their winter clothing out of her attic and checked a suitcase-full on the flight, so the girls were prepared.  Sandy City had built a multi-purpose water detention basin and park; the steep sides made for perfect short sledding runs.  Dad sat in a camp chair, bundled in coats, hats, gloves, and ear muffs, watching his posterity squeal down the hills.  I could not manage to steer my plastic toboggan straight, and cut incongruously across the slope, tumbling at the bottom.  I convinced Amy to ride with me once, and promptly dumped her when we tipped.    With snow on her face and her glasses fogged up, she announced that she was done sledding.  Dad indicated that only his bottom had been cold while he watched, so I turned on his seat warmers in the faithful old Suburban.  Warm and dry back at home, Amy reminded me of my promise to join forces in decorating the gingerbread house the neighbors had brought as a thank you gift for helping them set up the church Christmas party.  This was no graham cracker house sealed with caramelized sugar.  This was a house constructed of real, thick gingerbread, glued with white mortar icing.  Amy wielded the piping bag, dispensing icing in locations and amounts appropriate for the window lights (yellow and red M&Ms), chimney (candy Legos), front walkway (Pez patio blocks), fish pond (Swedish fish), garden (green M&Ms and watermelon gummies), trees (Hershey’s kisses), and graveled yard (rock candy).  The quart-size candy resource bag held hundreds of pieces of candy of many varieties, which we segregated from one another and glued strategically to beautify the house and yards.  Chocolate rock candy was our favorite looking and tasting building material, but I mostly snitched the Christmas-colored Holland mints.  Working on the project with Amy was loads of fun, and Mom and Dad praised our colorful creation.  The house finished, I informed Amy, “I can’t wait to go sledding again tomorrow!”  She was still not so sure.

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