As a ballet teacher, I have borne witness to what I like to call The Policy Change, more times than I can count. It’s the moment a child goes from fearlessly spinning until they drop upon the ground, to cautiously assessing the risks involved when trying something new. The youngest of my students have a No-Fear Policy. They fling their bodies through space, arms outstretched, fingers reaching wide. They fall, get back up, and do it all over again. Then comes The Policy Change. In an instant, as a student feels herself falling out of a pirouette, everything shifts. It comes at an age when we are able to understand consequences – I could get hurt. I could be embarrassed. I could fail. Assessing risk is a key part of our survival, of course, but it can also be the assassin of fun and possibility.
This brings me to my wee friend, Bella. You may remember Bella from Ginger 2014. She and her friend Emma sent me the most murderous entry in Ginger history. This year, Bella accidentally emailed her Ginger 2015 entry to herself. So… I didn’t get it. Not in time for the competition, anyway. But I’ve decided to share it with you in the name of ginspiration.
Bella’s Ginger Bloody Disaster
This is my awful gingerbread disaster scene. You see when I went to put my actual gingerbread house together, the front parts broke and it was a mess. I picked up some of the wreckage and tried to form some kind of presentable structure. Since it looks so bad I had to add some colour which made it look even more gory and that’s when I got to this. All the gingerbread is homemade and gluten/dairy free so I can eat it. I made myself royal icing, which turned out good. There are some meringues there and matching cherry juice for colour. I have to say this isn’t my most marvellous gingerbread house but I think it’ll do for now. The important part is that it tastes amazing and I had fun while making it.
Did you find yourself thinking: I could never enter a gingerbread competition this week? Because I heard it. A LOT. So many people told me: I could never have made something good enough. And every one of those people was an adult.
Now, I know the concept of competing is daunting. For if you enter a competition, you might lose that competition. You might not, you know, win. Not in the conventional sense anyway. You’ve all seen the professional calibre of some of this year’s entries. SWEET FANCY MOSES! But there were also some modest entries. Entries made for fun. Entries made with family and friends. And in all of these years of competitive gingering, I’ve never had a single competitor tell me that they regretted entering. Quite the opposite, actually. Most feel as Bella does – that the most important part was the fun of it all.
I’d like you to know that every competitor who entered Ginger 2015 was instructed to look at past competitions – to see what they’d be up against, to understand the tone of the competition – and they were given the opportunity to withdraw. Not one did. Not one person emailed back to say: mine’s not good enough or the risk is too great. In fact, many Ginger competitors come back year after year despite the fact that most of them have never won a prize, many have been demolished in online polling, and I have mercilessly tormented and teased them.
You should also know that I’ve heard, often in whispered tones, that this competition brings light to people. Because in this season so closely associated with joy, there are many who feel alone, or sad, or overwhelmed. They are simply trying to pick up the wreckage and look presentable. Know that the opportunity to bust a gut over some gingerbreading is a much appreciated tradition.
Thanks for shining brightly, Ginger competitors. Thanks for being brave, for taking a hit or two for the team, and for pirouetting without fear. And thanks for the reminder, Bella. I think I’ll try something new and exciting today…