Deb Abraham Spalding
Candy (Leahy) Lawyer, of Thurmont, “was a beautiful lady with golden hair, bright green eyes and a sweet smile. She lived in a cottage called Candy’s Corner. Joy and laughter filled the cottage. Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, after days of preparation filled with love, she would host a gingerbread house decorating celebration. This became a celebration of love, family and togetherness that was disguised by candy-coated fun! It was a special time for everyone to laugh and kick off the holiday season.”
The above is an excerpt from Heather Lawyer’s “Candy Corner”online about her mom. What started out as a small gathering to make four small gingerbread houses became known as “Gingerbread Day”and grew to become an annual tradition. Candy became known as “Sweet Candy,”since this was her very favorite time of year. Candy passed away in 2017 after a courageous four-year battle with cancer.
Her children, Brent, Heather, and Mitchell, have set out to carry on the gingerbread tradition by continuing Gingerbread Day. Heather hosted the family’s gingerbread day this year, and she worked with Vickie Grinder, Thurmont’s Main Street Manager, to provide community gingerbread classes in the Main Street Center in Thurmont. Her brothers, their wives, their cousins and friends come out to help. Heather said, “We have a little army of gingerbread helpers.”
In a “History of Gingerbreads” interview by Barb Lawyer Briggs with Candy, Candy explained that when she was pregnant with her and her husband Dave’s first child, Brent, in 1982, she made a gingerbread carousel for her mother-in-law, Mary Lawyer. Then, in December of 1986, when Brent and their second child, Heather, were three and four, Candy’s mother, Lynne Leahy, came across an article about a gingerbread lady where the recipe, the patterns, and directions were outlined. Lynne had always wanted to start a Leahy tradition for the kids and felt this was it.
During Barb’s interview, Candy recalled that one year, half the gingerbread houses collapsed. She explained that gingerbread can be temperamental. She shared that when the kids get to age 10 to 14, they start using planned themes. “It’s really interesting to watch.” One year, Mitchell made a complete barn and barnyard. One nephew, Kevin, used gummy bears every year. One year, the gummy bears were in a battle. “I think that year all the boys had a war theme. Santa was on a roof with a machine gun. There were injured gummy bears. It wasn’t very Christmassy.”
This year marks the thirty-first year of Gingerbread Day. Every year, every kid keeps coming back, even when the kid has now become an adult. Heather said, “The youngest cousin is now 20 and everybody including him still shows up. That was mom’s favorite part.”
Heather’s love for her mother and her family is very evident in her actions and words. It is very obvious that the opportunity to carry this tradition is truly an honor for her. Heather claims that her all-time favorite gingerbread will always be the tribute to her Uncle Jan Lawyer. The year Jan passed away, Heather, her brothers and their wives, Renee and Stephanie, made gingerbread replicas of Jan’s Winterbrook Farm and Corn Maze. Brent and Renee did the barn, Heather did the home farm, Mitchell did the corn maze.
For about twenty years, Heather took her gingerbreads to her Grammy (Mary) Lawyer. Heather said, “She’d be calling, ‘Heather, is your house done yet? I thought Gingerbread Day was two weeks ago!’ As soon as I took it to her, she’d stand up in church and announce that the gingerbread house was finally there and she’d invite the whole congregation to come on over and see it.”
Heather’s most memorable gingerbread creation that she made herself was a ski resort with a mountain made of Rice Krispie with a gingerbread lodge at the bottom. It was about 24”x 24”. She said, “I made trees out of pretzels using coconut shavings that I died green for leaves. It took me about a week to finish. I remember coming home from work and finding random gum drops stuck on places I did not put them. I realized it was my grandfather (Pat Leahy), of course, playing tricks on me! They know how particular I am and this was a fun game for my grandparents and mom to play!” She added, “Grammy (Lawyer) called during that week wondering if I would ever finish it. When I finally delivered it to her, her jaw dropped and her face lit up when she finally saw it being carried in her house!”
Keep an eye open for opportunities to participate in the gingerbread classes that Heather and her brothers are hosting in the coming years. It’s a sweet time of candy-coated fun!
Candy Lawyer is shown with her husband, Dave, and her first gingerbread: a carousel.
Heather Lawyer gives her mom, Candy, the Gingerbread Lady, a squeeze as they bake gingerbread in their kitchen. Candy is wearing her Gingerbread Lady apron.
Heather’s favorite gingerbread, a ski resort.