I made this for my grandpa when I was five. I know this for two reasons: 1) my mom helpfully wrote the date and my name on the back and 2) I can remember it hanging on a tree in his apartment when I was little. I will acknowledge that might not be the clearest memory — my grandfather died when I was nine, which was quite a while ago. And in my mind, it was hanging year-round on… Well, not a pine tree, but some sort of small, regular tree.
(As I try to justify this odd recollection and find myself wondering why anyone would have a tree in their apartment, I look across the living room and notice the ficus I’ve brought in from the cold. So yeah, I guess it happens.)
When I moved out on my own, my gingerbread girl was one of the “home” ornaments I picked to take with me, and is by far the oldest one I have. It lives in the offseason packed in a special box filled with foam padding, and every Christmas I find the highest, sturdiest branch to hang it on, in the hopes of keeping it safe for one more year. (When you have cats, precious Christmas objects are perpetually at risk while on display.)
It sounds slightly over-dramatic to say the gingerbread girl is one of the most precious things I own, but because it’s one of the very few things I have that belonged to my grandpa — and the only one that I made for him — it really is. Unboxing it every Christmas and discovering it hasn’t disintegrated (yet) makes me smile, and when I look at it, it reminds me that even people who have been gone longer than long are never all that far away.