Pivoting Traditions

By: Elaina Johann, administrative manager on December 30th, 2020

Time-honored traditions are held close to our hearts. When they are great ones, they aren’t stopped by a roadblock. Instead, we adapt to work with the times and foster new memories that carry on for years to come.

My family has a tradition of assembling a holiday gingerbread house. What started in the early 2000s with a Wilton “Build it Yourself” gingerbread-house kit, led to years of innovation through fabrication, baking, mixing, and the occasional use of some power tools.

2019, 2018, & 2017 Johann Family gingerbread houses

In a typical year, my dad is the architect, baker, and contractor. After mulling over inspirations typically mentioned by my mom, he cooks up a design that tops those from previous years. The “kids” then come home for a weekend to take on our roles as decorators. Some of us go all-in, getting elbows deep into icing and peppermint, while others become critics offering words of improvement or approval. The result is a festive baked house showcasing a little bit of everyone’s handiwork or suggestions. Each family member plays a part in the tradition and together we enjoy one another’s company while nurturing some creative energy.

Working on gingerbread houses over Zoom

We couldn’t let this year go by without our annual tradition. This year, each household designed and baked its own gingerbread house. Over a two-and-a-half-hour Zoom call on a chilly Saturday morning, we decorated and collaborated, discussing everyone’s creations. I now am more appreciative of each person’s distinct skills and believe this pivoted tradition shows we can each expand our gingerbread-making repertoire and still connect while apart.

2020 completed gingerbread houses

Collaborating as a team at the Woodson Art Museum is much like building a gingerbread house with my family. Colleagues work together, sharing stories of the past while working toward the future. At the almost five-month point in my tenure, I continue to learn more about time-honored traditions here as I cultivate my role on the team.

The traditions at the Woodson are great ones that will continue as we persevere and creatively adapt through these changing and challenging times.

I look forward to welcoming the new year at the Museum as well as to learning more about the traditions Woodson Wanderings’ readers hold dear.

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