An Explosive Tradition 1

Blowing The Roof Off

I have some very good friends who have a curious annual tradition.

The celebration actually begins in early December at Christmastime, as they gather together as a family to carefully and creatively fabricate elaborate gingerbread houses. Each member designs his or her own gingerbread masterpiece, taking care to make the structure sound. Literally hours are spent as blocks of gingerbread are stacked and cemented together with sticky white frosting. Peppermints, gum drops, candy canes and various other goodies and sweets are used to adorn these amazing creations. After placing the final finishing touches and the frosting hardens, each gingerbread creation is placed in a position of honor around the house so all can appreciate its splendor during the entire festive month.

Then, on December 31, the family regathers–this time with a different type of anticipation. Jeans and parkas are worn instead holiday clothes. The Christmas carols are replaced with music that’s a little livelier as the gingerbread houses are all taken down from their various locations. Then, each gingerbread house is rigged and stuffed with fireworks and taken outside to a large open space. With steam streaming from their mouths, family members stand outside to await the New Year. When the clock finally strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, those beautiful gingerbread creations explode, and are destroyed and burnt as the family cheers on.

Personally, I love this tradition. Besides being a great way to spend time with the family and create memories, it is a pertinent reminder of what January is and what it means and of the need to let go or “destroy” those things in your life that weigh you down. It speaks to a new beginning.

In previous New Year holidays, I have felt an unspoken internal pressure. Somehow, in the post-holiday fatigue and fog, I am expected to generate and add a long list of New Year’s resolutions to my already hectic life. By February, those good intentions are often discarded with an aftertaste of failure. Perhaps a more productive focus would be symbolized by this gingerbread tradition. Instead of increasing my to-do list, I can remove something. I can ask: What habit or behavior can I eliminate that detracts from my mental, physical, social, or spiritual well-being? What can I give up? These questions will help identify an action that holds me back–that I wish to be free from. And then, when I find that habit or behavior that I have been holding so tightly onto, I need to remember the final act of those carefully constructed gingerbread houses, and “blow the roof ” off of it, off of all the bad habits, off the things I want to let go of, while my loved ones cheer me on.

Happy New Year!