Pinterest could easily be the death of my sanity during the holidays. Millions of pictures portraying perfect worlds, perfect decorations, perfect family moments, even perfect toilets. Even if I had an unlimited budget, it would still be too much for me.
I grew up in the 80’s – a time before Pinterest, mommy blogs and Buzz Feed sharing the top 10 ways to put a little sparkle into your holiday. Instead, there were magazines. I remember my mom pouring over her Country Living, diligently dog-earing pages of crafts and recipes while praying that if she applied enough glitter our smiles would be genuine. We had beautiful holidays at my house with delicious meals, perfect trees and bounds of presents. What we lacked in true emotion we made up ten-fold in picture-perfectness.
One year my mom made gingerbread dough from scratch and cut out perfect little house pieces. She made her own icing through a meticulous process of trial and error. Once perfected, she glued the house together and decked it out in the same grandiose style that our sun-filled Florida home boasted. It was an amazing creation, and delicious to boot. What the entire experience lacked, though, was the sugar-crazed fun a little kid has glueing so many gumdrops to the roof that it collapses.
There was nothing wrong with my childhood – was picture-perfect of course – but there was little genuine about it.
I have a friend in Kentucky with a beautiful elementary aged daughter. Their home is always a mess but their smiles are so real. Their dining room table is crusted with dried craft glue and glitter from projects that her daughter directs. Their gingerbread house was a sprawling work of elementary creativity – mounds of icing, piles of candy, a bit of gingerbread here and there. What matters in my friend’s home is not creating picture-perfect events, but creating authentic memories.
The contrast between their home and my childhood house is stark. Almost as stark as the contrast between the word house and the word home. A house is a structure that is built using a plan. A home, though, is a place where you feel you belong. A home cannot be built by following a set plan, Pinterest board or magazine article. My friend has a home. I had a house.
I want Sabine to have a home filled with scrappy memories. I want her to remember her first gingerbread house not as something picture perfect and out of reach, but as a delicious, messy, adventure.
Yesterday Sabine and I built our first gingerbread house. I’m not much of a baker so I bought a pre-made kit from IKEA and then found pre-made icing at the grocery store. She sat with me as I glued it together, then we read Christmas books while it dried. Later I showed her how you put icing on the back of dried fruit and stick it to the roof. She had a blast for about five minutes until she discovered eating icing is much more satisfying so she set to work licking up icing drips from the table and telling me where to glue things.
Ten minutes later our gingerbread house was a home.
It’s a struggle for me to let go of the perfection I was raised with and allow moments like these to truly belong to Sabine. I strive daily to find perfection in the imperfect and to live through Sabine’s eyes, not through the guides of social media. I want the dwelling in which we live to always be a home, and never just a house.