SPRING LAKE, Mich. — A beloved life-sized gingerbread house has returned to the lakeshore for its second holiday season.
Tucked at the corner of Exchange and Division Streets, homeowners Rich and Kerri Henderson said it wasn't even a question about decorating the house again this year.
"We definitely wanted to bring it back because so many people commented about how happy it made them," said Kerrie. "It's kind of hard to walk away from that, once you've had that kind of love and support."
"I can't imagine not doing it now," she added.
For Kerri and the rest of her family, they say the best part is that her son Conner's memory is living on through the décor.
In 2018, Conner died of bone cancer at just 17 years old. For the first time in 2021, his family created the gingerbread house in his honor, as a way to celebrate the holidays again.
"It was really difficult for me the first couple of years, and we just kind of ran away and traveled," said Kerrie. "We didn't do trees, we didn't do presents, we didn't do anything because I just couldn't handle it."
"Then last year, I just felt like he would be saying, 'okay, Mom, enough, you've always loved Christmas and it's time for you to figure stuff out and move on and try to make other people happy,'" she said, "so, this is really all in honor of him."
13 On Your Side was the first to meet Kerri and see the house back in 2021. After that, people from all over came to visit and see the amazing decorations.
"I had a couple people write me little notes after they saw the news story," Kerri said. "I knew that the house itself, without knowing the story affected people, but then getting his story out was so much more important."
Kerri said people are welcome day or night to come to the house and take pictures.
"We want people to know it's okay to go right up on the porch and take pictures," she said. "We know there were a lot of people last year that stopped that seemed a little bit nervous about whether or not it was okay to go up on the porch, but we want people to know that we want them to feel welcome and and you know, get up up there with the gingerbread people and get on the porch and take as many pictures as they want."
Kerri also started an Instagram page for the Gingerbread House, and said she'd love to have people tag them in any pictures people take because they love seeing people enjoy the house.
She also said they are working on even more decorations and can't wait to continue the tradition each holiday season in honor of Conner.
"He just really enjoyed making people smile," Kerri said, "and he really taught all of us that knew him, and a lot of people that didn't, a lot about living a good life and enjoying every moment, and I just felt like this was a good way to honor him."
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