“Every Christmas on my mum’s side of the family we made these little gingerbread houses and it, until the last couple years it was at my grandparent’s house, my mum’s parents’ house, and it would be me and my mum and my dad and my brother and then my mums two siblings and their families and my grandparents obviously. And my grandma would bake all the houses and then you know we each bring some candies or something to decorate them with. And she would always have a crockpot full of cinnamon and apples and orange peels and stuff, not to eat just to kind of smell nice and it was also kind of a potluck thing so pretty much like everyone who was coming would bring some food, it might just be like picking up some you know like chips and salsa from a restaurant or someone might bake something, but my grandma usually made a casserole and like a dessert or something and my grandpa would, like my grandma would bake the houses and my grandpa would put them together with the icing. And also, my mum and my uncle and my grandpa are all engineers so usually their houses are very intricate and very put together. And you know it had been going on since, I think it started in the 90s, in my family, it might’ve been a little later than that actually I think it was mostly for the kids so when my brother and I were young and my cousins who are a little younger than my brother, my brother is the oldest, and even though it was oriented around the kids all the adults *laugh* would really go hard and put a lot of effort into the houses and again a bunch of engineers it was hyper-detailed like intricate ornate houses um.
This was mostly just my mum’s side of the family. It was organized by my grandparents, my dad was there but not really his side of the family. It wasn’t just to build the houses either, especially when the kids got older and busier and so did the adults and parents, it kind of became an excuse to socialize and see everyone around the holidays, and we would also, after that around the 24th and 23rd we would also see that family but yeah it was mostly an excuse to get together and the food and the houses and the smelly stuff was just kind of an accessory, an excuse to get together and stuff. But yeah, it has pretty much only been the people who I’ve mentioned. My grandma didn’t have the best family life growing up so I think it was really important to her to try and cultivate that as best as she could. She is like very giving and wants good things for people so I think this was kind of her yearly way to make the little house for everyone. So everyone made a house except for her because she was replacing the icing bags and things like that, so for her, I think this was honestly a stressful time, but it was worth it because the family was all laughing and stuff.”
Context: The informant has always participated in this tradition and continues to participate yearly. The informant’s family has lived in Southern California for several generations. The informant believes that the purpose of the gingerbread tradition is to bring family closer together and to create happy memories.
I agree with the informant’s analysis explaining the purpose of the gingerbread tradition as cultivating a loving family environment and encouraging family bonding. The informant’s grandmother appears to have designed the gingerbread activity to be as enjoyable for everyone participating and likely wanted to primarily strengthen family relationships and create pleasant memories. The gingerbread serves as an opportunity for the family to all partake in a festive activity together while eating, creating a very hospitable environment for families to enjoy each other’s company.