Up next in the Christ-Centered Christmas traditions series is Lindsey Whitney of Growing Kids Ministry sharing how their simple family tradition bridges the generations and slows them down to celebrate Christ’s birth.
There is something about the smell of cinnamon wafting through the air that means Christmas is nearby. Perhaps it’s the candle on the table. Maybe it’s the pinecones in every store entrance. For us, it’s the delicious aroma of Christmas sweet rolls. Growing up, sweet cinnamon rolls in the oven usually meant that family was nearby. My mother always mixed up a batch when my uncle Chuck came to town (in fact, I think he came to town just so he could eat them). Her sweet rolls are huge, savory, and melt in your mouth delicious. Though especially popular during the cold winter months, I also have memories of her mixing them up during summer vacations. One year, she made them with assistance of my cousin, Keeliyah, barely three. Keeliyah’s small delicate hands hanging on tight to the rolling pin just inside my mother’s as they pressed out the dough together and sprinkled it liberally with cinnamon and sugar. Though throughout the year they were miles apart, this family tradition now tied them together in a special way.
Now that my husband and I have our own home and family, I’ve continued the sweet roll legacy. Each year on Christmas Eve, I get out the mixing bowls and measuring cups and begin the somewhat long process of making these delicious treats. I place them rolls in the fridge, rolled tightly into pinwheels of sugary goodness and tucked neatly into the baking dish, so they are all ready to go on Christmas morning. The first year I began the tradition, I forgot how long it takes for the dough to rise and never finished until almost midnight!
Thankfully, I’ve learned from that messy ordeal and now every Christmas Eve afternoon, the kids and I measure out the flour and sugar, mix up the milk and eggs, and sprinkle the cinnamon together, anticipating the joy of the next day.
As we gather around the table on Christmas morning, eating these sweet rolls helps me feel connected to the generations before me. Of course, they remind me of my mother, but they also remind me of my amazing godly grandmother who birthed and raise two of the most central people in my own spiritual walk. She is now gone, but it’s moments like these that keep me forever connected and grateful for the legacy she has created. I hope that my own children remember this tradition when they become adults. I love that the rolling and waiting forces us to block out a substantial amount of time and really slow down before the celebration of Christ’s birth. I love that the slow rising of dough builds anticipation of the goodness that is to come. In the rush of the Christmas season, I know that this tradition will hold strong. It’s simple yet deep. It is a delicious tradition and it is ours.