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The Edible Estates Story

Beautiful and delicious gingerbread Chri

I come from a family of builders and bakers. When I was a girl, I remember my grandfather coming for a visit one weekend and he and my dad deciding to build my sisters and I a playhouse. By that Sunday, we had our own 3-story A-Frame house in the backyard. Even at 10 years old, I remember being amazed that the two of them could construct something so beautiful so effortlessly. Meanwhile, my mom and grandma were always making their own masterpieces: cakes, cookies, donuts from scratch. I learned early the value of a gift that was made with love.


My foray into gingerbread started exactly the way you might expect – an activity that I did with my mom and two sisters as a young child for the holidays. My mom and grandmother were amazing bakers that inspired me to be creative. I’d originally gone to college to study architecture and even though I ended up with a liberal arts degree, there was something about constructing houses that had always called to me. My gingerbread houses became one of the places I’d play around with my architecture training. It was fun and creative outlet, and when I became a mother it developed into a bonding family tradition, and we made some incredible, edible houses.


In 2001, my daughter Sam and I were making our gingerbread house on the same afternoon of our town’s annual ritual of Santa riding through local neighborhoods atop a firetruck. We heard the siren from the kitchen and when we got outside, I saw the three young children from the house across the street waving excitedly from the curb. They had lost their dad just three months earlier in the 9/11 and I realized this would be their first Christmas without him. Even though we had all banded together as a neighborhood to provide support for the family, there was something about that moment that left me feeling a kind of helplessness I’d never experienced before. 


Later, when our gingerbread house was cooled and assembled, instead of sitting with Sam to decorate it, I packed up all the trimmings – the red and white peppermints, the tiny marshmallows, the silver sugar candies, the colorful nonpareils – into little plastic bags and we brought the whole thing over to the neighbors. I made them a “frosting glue gun” and encouraged them to create the house of their dreams. Seeing their eyes light up was, and still is, indescribable. I can only say it was a feeling I wanted to experience again. 


We’ve made and delivered gingerbread homes for that same family to decorate every year since. Even when they got a bit too old. Even after they moved to a new town. Gingerbread Houses had always been one of my favorite creative outlets, but on that December 2001 day, they also became a symbol of how I can offer what comes naturally to me to show others that I care.  


Gingerbread Houses feel magical and full of hope. And making them leaves people feeling creative and cheerful. I’ve been so grateful to be able to offer others the opportunity to create a gift that’s made with love. It is truly one of the greatest feelings in the world. 

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Molli Dowd


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