Many of you know by now that baking is not my strong suit. Not only have I never baked gingerbread, I have had little success making frosting (of any kind) – seriously, there are friends who will attest to my comically disastrous frosting attempts.
The idea of ME successfully making a gingerbread house from scratch is unlikely. Making one that will withstand decorating by children…is, well, laughable. And completely unrealistic without multiple attempts. Frankly, I’m just not committed to mastering this.
So, I went looking for a nut-free gingerbread house kit. Although I’ve heard they exist, I was unable to find one. I was stuck. Inept and lacking motivation to make one of my own, and unable to find a safe option for our family. I even considered skipping baking by forking over the big bucks to buy a LEGO Gingerbread House.
Then, something remarkable happened. We received an invitation to join our son at preschool to decorate a gingerbread house. I was curious how these teachers, who carefully ensure their classroom is nut-free, would pull this off. Is one of them a master baker? Did they find those coveted ‘safe’ kits? And how on earth could they successfully assemble a gingerbread house for each child and have it be cost-effective?
A month in advance, parents were invited to donate supplies. But instead of a donation free-for-all, the school provided a list of specific products. Not only did they specify the type of candy or treat, they included brand name, nut-free wording that should be found on the label, and where to buy it. This ensured parents bought ‘safe’ products, and that they didn’t have to run all over town trying to find a specific brand. They knew exactly where to go. No hassle.
Because ALL supplies were safe, they were able to provide a mixed bag of candy for each child.
The ‘gingerbread’ houses were simply and inexpensively made using hot glue guns and graham crackers.
To accommodate families with younger siblings, they made extra houses. Imagine my daughter’s (and my) surprise when they presented HER with a house, frosting and decorations. The crackers were glued together, and to the plate. They were stable enough for a 2-year-old to manhandle.
You guys, I was SO blessed! This preschool cares for each child AND family.
For many, a food-related activity might bring anxiety to an allergy parent. Or at least a heightened awareness requiring plenty of preparation. But because of careful planning, research and scrutiny of staff, every single food item was safe for nut allergies. Their attention to detail and safety has blessed our family time and time again since September.
How can I express gratitude for this type of care and concern for allergic children and families?
For those of you with no food allergies in your family, this may seem like no big deal. But to us, it means the health and safety of our child. It is immeasurable. It means we didn’t have to call ahead to pre-approve snacks or read labels. It means we didn’t have to go and search for the nut-free versions of similar candy, at who knows how many stores, to provide for our son. We were able to just show up and decorate without a concern.
It was wonderfully care-free.
As a result, two children were delighted and their mother left feeling waves of emotion – joyful, grateful, blessed, cared for.
And to the kind parent who carried our gingerbread houses to the car so I could pick up our daughter when she fell down…Thank you.
Tis the season.