Lilly had never seen a gingerbread house with Christmas lights on it before. That did seem strange—that and the fact that it was the size of a real house. Otherwise, the candied, iced exterior, with its adobe-colored walls made of gingerbread cookies, were completely what she would have expected.
She could only see the very front of it; the sides and yard area were a haze. Getting closer to the porch, she saw the door, made completely of icing, was open just a tiny bit…just a few inches. It had no knob, so she pushed it open gently, though she had never been there before.
The smell of pastries and cookies and frosting and chocolate and candy swirled around her, it seemed—but the smells simply came from the home itself. A strangely decadent interior for a candied house, the inside boasted crown molding made of frosting, tables built from sugar cookies, a couch made of chocolate cake. Gumdrops hung suspended from the ceiling by candy that looked like licorice, and the gumdrops dazzled with their sugar coating, which lit the entire room.
Then she spotted what looked like a mirror in a candy cane frame. The “glass” seemed to be a spun sugar so shiny that it reflected her image gazing within it—and she realized she was out of place in the festive home. Her hair was barely brushed, and bags pulled at the skin beneath her eyes. As soon as she glanced at herself, she felt instantly tired—even within the wake of all the holiday beauty.
To the side, she saw a doorway carved into the gingerbread wall and walked right on through. She had reached the kitchen, which oddly appeared to be a regular kitchen—except that a gingerbread woman stood at it, stirring a pot. Two gingerbread children stood by her, looking up at her eagerly.
“Then you can read us a Christmas story?” came the words from one of the children’s “o”-shaped mouths—though the mouth itself didn’t move.
“Of course,” said the gingerbread mother. She then turned to Lilly, who did not even flinch at being found intruding into the gingerbread house.
The gingerbread mother went right up to her, and with her icing “o” mouth stuck in the same position, communicated, “You have forgotten what to do during the holidays.”
A scene seemed superimposed onto the gingerbread kitchen scene—this time, one of Lilly running around the mall in a frenzy, frustrated that she couldn’t find this or that; then one of her rushing around her own home, trying to finish seemingly 20 things in one day.
The gingerbread mother continued. “Just slow down, and you’ll actually enjoy Christmas again.”
Then the sound of candies or peanuts or something similar falling into a bowl made a deafening sound in Lilly’s head—and so did Lilly’s alarm clock.
In response to “Relax.”