Usually in America on December 24th I would be running around doing some last minute gift shopping, but when you live in a village and vegetables and meat are not on your gift list you start baking instead. (There was a big market today which contained many people eagerly awaiting their once-a-year piece of meat and tomatoes and onions to cook it with.) Today was full of baked goods as I made banana bread, brownies, and cookie bars for the next day. Oh, and I cannot forget the gingerbread house. One of my family traditions every Christmas season is for each child in my family to make a gingerbread house and then display them in a row so that on Christmas Eve my grandparents analyze each one and try and guess who made what house and why. I knew my family would carry on the tradition this year, and I was not going to let a few thousand miles between us separate that tradition so I made one from Uganda. Now it is much harder to make one here when you don’t have the milk carton you normally use as your base and instead have to cut and tape up a cereal box to use. Additionally, my candy supply was severely limited to a few pieces of candy Anne’s parents had sent from home and a package of M&Ms from town. To top it all off we had no canned frosting so I had to attempt to make it from scratch, it ended up working although the frosting was a bit runny and did not stick quite as well as the packaged kind.
Sister Edith and Katusabe were in the kitchen when I was assembling my house, and they had never heard of a gingerbread house before and subsequently were struggling to grasp what the final product would look like. After I had finished one side of the house with the help of M&Ms, biscuits, peanuts, and a twizzler and created an African grass thatched roof by putting some random herb from the kitchen (at least I think it was an edible herb) on the top I was able to convince Katusabe that she should decorate the other side.She did a nice job, and added some African style security lights on the side to complete the look. The house was not as fully decorated as the houses I am used to making back in America, but given our limited supply of resources I have to say it looked good.
To carry on my family tradition at dinner we had everyone guess who completed which side of the gingerbread house, and then Sister Edith, Katusabe, and I described what each piece of candy represented (ex: yellow M&M was the sun, purple air head was new life, brown M&M was the soil from the manger or ashes, a cross for Jesus life, etc.) Now my family also likes to vote on whose house is best. Well, my sister Kari thinks that without my presence at home this year her house will get top honors, however, Kari you have yet to see the house Katusabe and I made...you have competition!