Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unfestive Dogs and Gingerbread House Amnesia

My dogs don’t seem to be quite as fond of Christmas as I am.

It started with the tree. I think my dogs wondered why their ‘mother’ was putting up a fake tree in the house and hanging things on it. They might have preferred a real tree but really, unless it had a squirrel in it, they probably wouldn’t like that either.

They didn’t like the tree going up it an activity that took up rather a lot of time in the evening which meant I wasn’t sitting on the sofa where they could cuddle up next to me. Also, the tree was DIFFERENT and, well, my dogs don’t like DIFFERENT. My dogs like their routine. This is why whenever I get home from work, it is time for a walk regardless of whether it’s bucketing down with rain or not. This is also why when they don’t get said walk due to the torrential rain, they sulk.

My dogs don’t like it when I bake. They mope if I’m in the kitchen because, again, I’m not paying any attention to them. My sense is that they seem to feel that while I am home, it is their canine right to have my full attention. When they don’t get it, they are not happy pups.

I’ve been baking quite a lot lately. Well, I’ve been in the kitchen a lot anyway, not necessarily just baking. The only time that the pups don’t seem to mind when I’m cooking is when it involves cheese. My girls love their cheese. I might have mentioned this. Rory, in particular, is rather partial to the more expensive types of cheese like parmigiano reggiano and gruyere. I know, I know…I shouldn’t give them cheese but…I do anyway. Just not that much.

They love cheese so much that they can actually tell when I’m getting my grater out of the cupboard. This may sound like I’m exaggerating but whenever I reach up to pull out the box grater, there are suddenly two pleading little dachshunds staring up at me whereas moments before, they were in the other room.

So, even though they don’t like it when I’m in the kitchen a lot, they don’t mind when it involves cheese.

However, they also don’t like it when I write Christmas cards. This is also an activity that means I’m not sitting on the couch with them. They don’t like it when I wrap gifts either. Not only am I still not cuddling with them but, also, I’m on the floor where they like to play and there’s a mess of which they don’t approve.

I have several other Christmas activities planned over the next week or two. One involves making a gingerbread house. I bought a kit because when it first becomes permissible to start diving into Christmas without seeming too premature, gingerbread houses seem like a lovely seasonal thing. I mean, gingerbread houses are a little symbol of Christmas festivity, are they not? I love gingerbread. I love houses. The combination seems pretty nifty when it comes in a neato kit with a carrying handle and you have a 50% off coupon.

The problem is that, well, they’re way better in theory than reality. Well, perhaps I should say, they’re way better in the picture on the box and in the images in your head than what generally manifests when you actually try to build one. I know that some of my readers are a lot…craftier than I am and thus may not be able to relate to the trials and tribulations of my former attempts to build gingerbread houses. However, I’ve built a few in the past. I always use kits because frankly I’m too lazy to bake them myself.

These kits usually involve making icing that theoretically should glue the house together. You have to get the icing exactly right otherwise it doesn’t work. And, actually, even if you get it right, it still doesn’t really work. I remember the time I assisted my friend’s son with his gingerbread house. My friend was also building a gingerbread construction with her other son- this was a tree that, essentially, was just a bunch of cookies stacked on top of one another. Our house, on the other hand, proved to be so problematic and the icing so un-gluelike that we literally resorted to duct tape to hold the blasted thing together while it dried. I’m not proud of this. Also, the duct tape did not work. We eventually got some semblance of a house that was standing and we covered the worst parts with lots of candy to hide the problems.

I should have learned from that experience and yet, two years later, I tried another gingerbread construction. This was a little more successful in that I eventually got the house to hold together. However, it did involve multiple dives across the counter to catch the walls as they fell and having to re-build it. Nevertheless, I did end up with a somewhat decent looking house. It just involved rather a lot of colourful adjectives every time I had to save it from collapsing.

I should have learned from THAT experience. Unfortunately, I think I simply suffer from Gingerbread House Amnesia. This is a condition that kicks in at the start of every Christmas season and manifests itself whenever I’m standing in front of a display of gingerbread houses. The amnesia causes me to say “Aw, fun!” instead of “HELL, NO!” and I end up buying a kit.

Then the kit sits in my house. One night, I will think, “time to make the house”. I’ll open the box and pull out that evil bag of icing that will be the glue. Then I’ll put the icing back in the box and put the kit away. This usually happens at least once.

I do eventually make the gingerbread house. I just haven’t done so when I’ve had the dogs. I’m hoping this effort will be slightly smoother than my last ones merely because I get a little mean and crotchety when things don’t go according to plan and I tend to yell a bit. The poor dogs have witnessed this many a time whether it involves my building IKEA furniture, laying down floor tiles, trying to decorate my clock for Christmas with a string of festive berries and knocking the clock off the wall or trying to get a picture on my wall to stay straight. I hate that I do get mean and that I shout but it’s a coping mechanism. It’s rather akin to, say, dropping a hammer on your foot and saying the f-word rather loudly. You can’t really stop it- it’s a reflex reaction. I have dropped a hammer on my foot a couple of times, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, I am eventually going to build this gingerbread house. I just don’t think it will be tonight. Tonight I will wrap more gifts which will not make my dogs happy but it might be a little safer for them than the gingerbread house.

I think they actually like it better when I watch Christmas movies because then, at least, I’m doing what they want which is staying still long enough for them to bury their cold noses in my lap and get comfortable.

It’s even better when I have cheese.

Happy Wednesday and thanks for reading!(And Happy Birthday to my lovely mum and best friend, Saz!)

1 comment:

Emily said...

I feel your pain- when the kids were little, I did do mini-houses with them a couple of times, but we made those using Graham Crackers instead of gingerbread (they're not only smaller for little hands, but they're lighter, which made it easier to keep the sides up). I haven't had the patience to make them in years, though...