December 12th, 2008 – by: diisha392
Two little girls--mid-elementary school age, I guess--hurry ahead of me, their grandmother leading them to the brick house. Despite the cold breeze, I pause on the gravel driveway and wait for them to open the wooden door and disappear inside the brick home. I smile at the photo opportunity. I had come to visit Darnell’s Chance to see the confections created for their annual Gingerbread Contest, and coming up the steep drive, I had been surprised to see a life-size gingerbread house awaiting. After a few shots, I head inside where I am greeted by a friendly proprietor who explains how visitors get to vote on our favorite gingerbread house in two divisions: child and adult.
I head into the child’s room first to look at the six entries.
They have already been judged by the committee at Darnell’s Chance, and I get a chuckle out of the winning entry “Worst Christmas Ever” where a dinosaur has wrecked a city. Other unique entries involve a spaceship and Santa at a spa. My personal favorite is a Christmas Village with two separate buildings; peeking into the windows, I can see smaller objects carefully placed within the gingerbread walls.
child entry--Worst Christmas Ever
I wander through the doorway into the adult entries room. The smell of gingerbread has subtly been working its way into my nose, and I enjoy the pleasant scent as I begin to look at about a dozen baked masterpieces.
The winner in here is actually from a woman who attends my church (it was her conversation back in November that prompted me to look into seeing the display). She created a multiple-storied loft for Santa’s reindeer. Windows at varying heights are labeled with the names of his faithful steeds. However, the first house I see is not as much a house as Santa’s Favorite Ornament. Resembling a large red globe, the hollow half circle depicts a cozy scene with a glowing fireplace. To its right a blue gingerbread house almost looks as though it has squashed a giant but its namecard gives a clue to its true design with the phrase “Curiouser and curiouser.” The squashed giant is not actually squashed but an overgrown Alice in Wonderland, popping out of windows and doors. Nearby, another gingerbread house provides shelter not for little people but birds.
adult entry--Reindeer Loft
The next creation shows a whole village, quite a famous one actually: Whoville, done in bright colors that would make Dr. Seuss proud. Another gingerbread house in the room also gained its inspiration from a cartoon character. Mickey Mouse and his ears proudly adorn a frosted factory-style structure. Real life also lends its muse. A local building��"the Equestrian Center��"is replicated in edible form. More traditional style gingerbread homes with their own unique touches��"a pretzel fences, little candied packages lining the front steps��"also rest on the display tables. I find myself drawn to a small one that reminds me of Bethlehem. Doves, other animals, and greenery decorate this creation named simply “Peace.
I put my vote in a white basket and walk across the hall to the two rooms done in period style, the period being that of the early 1700’s. The parlor shows four adult mannequins enjoying some simple entertainment such as a game of cards. I prefer to look at the elaborate gowns on the women. While I wouldn’t want to have to wear such heavy clothing everyday, I think it would be fun to own at least one dress in that beautiful design. The main bedchamber behind the parlor is dimmer and not as interesting, so I return to the hallway and head up the stairs to the second floor.
Upstairs I spend a few minutes reading the placards of two small exhibits.
The first discusses pets in colonial times ranging from the expected dogs and cats to the more exotic monkeys, deer, and beavers. The second room holds a few dioramas that create a glimpse into the life of early Upper Marlboro.
Back down in the main hall, I pause to snap a picture of the Christmas tree and then head down a flight of steep steps (with a low ceiling although that’s not a problem for me) to the basement. Here I glance in the wine cellar and winter kitchen and briefly browse the gift shop.
My visit complete I head back outside and on towards home.