Once upon a time, there lived a 5-year-old little boy who had a mother who did not care for the holiday season, at all. To make her son believe that she was somewhat festive, the mother went through all the necessary traditions - trimming the tree, providing a morning sugar rush with an Advent candy each day, belting out "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" during every trip in the car, and making the appropriate comments about Santa's gifts. The mother even purchased a gingerbread house kit with grand visions of assembling the house - cue the background Christmas music - on a rainy December afternoon with her sweet son.
Unbeknownst to the mother, the father of the child also bought a gingerbread house kit for he and the boy to put together. On the second weekend of December, they did just that and the result was a very symmetric and well-decorated gingerbread centerpiece.
Upon returning to his mother's home, the boy told her of the fine time he had with his dad and the lovely gingerbread creation they had produced together. The mother, hiding her surprise quite well, pulled out the gingerbread kit she had purchased and showed it to the boy. "That's it," the boy exclaimed. "That's the same house I did with Daddy!"
Not to be outdone, the mother turned to her kitchen shelves and pulled out every container of sprinkles she could find. There were sprinkles left over from Easter, unused sprinkles from Fourth of July, and a large stash of red and green candy from last Christmas. "These," proclaimed the mother, "will make our gingerbread home a masterpiece!" "And," she added, "you may eat as much of the frosting and as many sprinkles as you like."
The project was laid out, the music was cued up, a candle was lit and the rain came down. It was the perfect setting for a festive afternoon. Except for the small issue of a weak gingerbread foundation.
After multiple attempts and several verbal expressions that cannot be shared in this little story, the mother scooped out as much frosting as she could with her hands and tried to stick the walls and the roof together. The house remained upright. For about one minute. And then the roof caved in, the sides fell apart, and the child let out a bloodcurdling scream. Upon hearing the scream, the dog jumped off her bed and ran for the back of a chair. The child fled from the kitchen, sobbing. And the mother wondered if she should call Child Protective Services. The mother opted instead to search for a bottle of wine. Fortunately she didn't have to look very far. She surveyed the scene:
The mother dragged the child back into the kitchen and delivered a strong lecture about overreacting and generally acting like a spoiled brat. She said things like: "Do you think that the kids in after school care are making gingerbread houses right now?" And: "Do you know how lucky you are that you are home with me, doing this?" And the clincher: "Do you know that Mommy should be at work full time to cover this Godforsaken mortgage payment and that we could crumble like this gingerbread house?" The mother then recalled some wise tidbit about not involving kids in adult problems and she coerced the child into getting into the car and driving to Target to procure another gingerbread house.
So, the mother and the child dashed through the pouring rain and found the gingerbread aisle in Target. And it was quite barren. Except for the large selection of gingerbread train kits.
A train kit was scooped up by the boy and the story of how his mother "ruined" his gingerbread was re-told to anyone and everyone in the Target store - register clerk, security guard, other moms, bored teenagers - who would listen. "My dad's gingerbread house is so awesome," he added, each time, and for good measure.
The boy and his mother returned with the kit and the mother just about fell over in joy upon seeing that the innovative people who thought up the gingerbread train also had the brilliant idea to provide a foundation in which to place the icing and the crackers. As she opened her bottle of wine, she also realized that she could salvage the remains of the original gingerbread structure and have nearly double the candy and icing. This seemed to please the boy, as well.
Train assembled, the child went after the candy, eating to his heart's content and occasionally placing some on his train while the mother sat nearby, chugging (oh, I mean SIPPING), her wine.
Two hours later, the child held his belly and told his mother that even though he had eaten too much candy, that the train was the "best" part of his Christmas. "Even better," he added happily, "than that gingerbread house at daddy's."
And that is why the mother now has ten gingerbread train kits and umpteen containers of sprinkles.