Fragrances of sugar filled the hallway while Christmas music played through every speaker. Our annual, over-the-top, gingerbread house projects had commenced, but this year there would be a new twist. As long as I’ve taught at my school, we’ve encouraged our students to be creative and not “simply” make gingerbread “boring” houses. Too trite. We asked them to consider world events or headlines; blockbuster movies or pop culture. Over the years we’ve had such astonishing candy creations built that they could only be described as sculpture! The competitive spirit of our students caused everyone to think outside the box and push beyond what they thought candy could result in. Sadly, however, as amazing as the sculptures were, they were placed in the dumpster at the end of the week, before we left for the holiday break. It seemed such a waste to not be able to enjoy them longer. We began thinking about this last year and finally decided to reign in the creative freedom, just a little bit, and instead, build creations for a local senior care facility.
A member of our faculty contacted the closest facility to our school and, as expected, the director was thrilled that we had decided to give this holiday cheer to the elderly residents. Each teacher chose an idea and presented it to the students. We knew it had to be somewhat more traditional than some of the candy sculptures built in the past, yet we still wanted it to provide joy and excitement for the kids.
Each class worked on their creation for two days. The first day the armature was built from cardboard and hot glue. The second day was the adornment of candy and cookies and sugarplums! By the end of the second day, the teachers were about to be sick from the smell, all day long, of candy and sugar. By noon we were all breathing through our mouths so we wouldn’t smell the sickening sweetness, but throughout the day, middle and high school students were thrilled at the outpouring of creative genius and thoughtful decision-making.
The results were breathtaking and it warmed our spirits to give it all away! We created three bird houses, a European cathedral – fashioned after Notre Dame, a 1950’s drive in, a sports car and Elvis’ Graceland mansion! Students in the Art Honors classes were selected to help deliver these enormous creations to the local senior facility. The facility administrators and the residents were overjoyed as students carried in the large-scale pieces. These creations would sit in the public areas of the facility throughout the holiday season, brightening the spirits of all.
This year, consider giving it all away. Do you have items in your own home that others would love to have? Would you consider a DIY Christmas or a Buy Nothing Christmas instead of a Shopping ‘Till You Drop Christmas? Enjoy this time with family and friends and begin dreaming of the life you want.