40 Year Old Gingerbread House Touches My Heart
We've all admired and tried to construct the perfect Gingerbread house. This heart warming story touched my heart and made me miss my dad even more. What happens to the house tradition now will move you.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Steve Lukse of Rye Brook, N.Y. has been setting up his Gingerbread House faithfully, with its stale walls and cracked icing, on his dining-room table for 39 plus years.
Seems for nearly four decades it had served as an annual holiday centerpiece for Mr. Lukse and his companion, Betty Dineen, who, every December, would give him the word.
“She’d say, ‘Let’s not forget to get the gingerbread house out,'” said Mr. Lukse, 73, who would dutifully pull it out of the basement freezer in their modest house here on sleepy Hillandale Road in Westchester County.
Mr. Lukse bought the gingerbread house for their first Christmas together, in 1976.
“After that Christmas, Betty said, ‘I’d hate to have to eat it and I don’t want to throw it out,'” he recalled. “So we just kept saving it from one year to the next. It became a tradition.”
The tradition stopped when Mrs. Dineen died at age 87 from pancreatic cancer. Mr. Lukse could not bear to observe the holidays the same way without her. On Thanksgiving, without Mrs. Dineen’s turkey dinner, he ate a roast beef sandwich in the company of their canary, Goldie.
He happened upon a newspaper article that started a chain of events that has ended with the cherished gingerbread house, the size of a toaster oven, being admired by visitors to a Queens museum.
The article described a chef in New York City who every year bakes a huge gingerbread village for public display. Mr. Lukse telephoned the chef, Jon Lovitch, 38.
A few days ago, Mr. Lovitch drove up to Rye Brook to adopt the couple’s beloved house.
Mr. Lovitch said the house’s poignant story moved him and seemed to be a perfect Christmas tale.
Now their story will be told to the gingerbread-loving public, Mr. Lovitch said, before taking the house from Mr. Lukse’s home to the Hall of Science to add to the 1,003-house exhibit, which is on display through Jan. 11.
Told about this by phone later, Mr. Lukse sounded happy.
“I want it to go to a good place,” he said, “because I kind of feel like she’s still watching.”