Christmas Series

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!

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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.

sweet rolls


  1. […] Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate with family traditions!  Even if you already have some time honored traditions of your own, it’s fun to read about how others celebrate and you might even decide to add one or two traditions to your holiday celebrations.   That’s just what Liz Murray of Simple Life Messy Life was thinking when she put together the Christ Centered Christmas Traditions series.   You can check out my guest post for the series all about Christmas morning sweet rolls. […]

  2. David Hunt on December 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

    We too in our family have a cinnamon roll tradition, usually at Christmas and/or Easter. I hadn’t put as much thought into the meanings behind it as you have(you have quite a way with words) but I do very much enjoy them whatever the case. In fact since living out here(PA) I have made them a few times(just ask Lou and Lisa, or Jeff and Kristy, or Jon and Denise). In fact last year I capitalized Denise’s kitchen to roll them out. Typically we makes ours the evening before we plan on eating them and then let it rise overnight before rolling them out and baking. The recipe even says that they can be frozen(I suppose either in the dough or cooked forms) although even with two batches they seldom make it that far. I enjoyed your account, but I’d have to say that I’d put mine against yours any day. 🙂