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Kristine Lilly from Kyle, Texas has gone all out this year with the Christmas decorations, putting together what people in her neighborhood are calling the giant life-sized gingerbread house.
Lilly says her skills for decorating her home for the holidays came back in 2020 when families and friends were forced to be separated due to the pandemic. At the time, her two children were both stationed at military bases and she was home with only her husband Robert Helms.
“I had just handed out Halloween candy with tongs and a mask and was wondering what Christmas was going to look like,” Lilly told TODAY.
Lilly reminisced about the times back in her childhood in Arkansas when her mother, Sandy Crace, would make gingerbread houses for her children to take to school.
“We would just stare at the house and wait for the day we could eat it,” Lilly recalls.
She said her mother knew how to make “the best gingerbread ever” and had a special ability to make the holiday feel very “magical.”
Her mother’s love for Christmas inspired her and she wanted to give that same feeling to her community that she had when she was a little girl.
That’s when she decided to turn her home into a life-sized gingerbread house which then turned into an annual tradition.
She notes that everything you see on display is handmade and started as a way to spread Christmas cheer during what was a dark time.
However, year after year, it has grown into a popular holiday attraction that draws hundreds of visitors.
Those who visit the giant gingerbread house are treated to a free cup of hot chocolate and they get to take photos with Santa, who is really Lilly’s husband, Robert all dressed up as the character.
“He was dubious at first,” which means hesitant. But he soon “embraced it” and started to enjoy greeting guests as Santa and handing out candy to them.
For 2022, she has taken things to a whole new level and is serving an even larger purpose by asking visitors for canned food donations to help combat food insecurity in the local community.
Visitors are also allowed to donate money which goes to the Hays County Food Bank in San Marcos, Texas.
In addition to that, Lilly also sells gingerbread cookies from her porch which are made with a secret recipe she learned from her mother.
While it takes a lot to transform her home into a magical wonderland of imagination, she says it’s worth it.
It’s almost like this was meant to be, Lilly says, “It makes me wonder if this was somewhere in my subconscious when I chose the paint color.”