My mom started making cinnamon rolls in the shape of a Christmas tree for Christmas morning when I was about ten years old. She saw the idea at a homemaking meeting for Relief Society in the 1990s when we were living in Seattle. She later found a recipe in a Rhodes rolls recipe book and started making it for us once a year on Christmas morning.
Here’s how she does it. On Christmas eve, she makes rolls with her mother’s roll dough recipe. Then she uses some of the roll dough to make the Christmas tree. Before baking it, she puts it in the freezer until Christmas morning. When we wake up on Christmas morning, she gets it out of the freezer and lets it thaw and rise while we open presents. After a while, it’s ready to bake. Right about that time, everyone is hungry for breakfast. We take a break from presents and eat the warm cinnamon roll trunk and branches with our hot chocolate and egg casserole.
When I was first married, my husband and I went to our parents’ homes for Christmas. But after a few years, when our kids grew bigger and it was time to do Christmas at our own home, I decided to continue the tradition of the cinnamon roll Christmas tree. I didn’t remember exactly how my mom did it, but I figured it would be simple to just put cinnamon rolls together in the shape of a Christmas tree. Wrong!
Next year, we went to my mom and dad’s for Christmas and I learned how to make the tree properly.
I made sure to copy the recipe and bring it home with me. Here’s the copy:
I looked up “Rhodes rolls Christmas tree” online just now and found that they have published their recipe here:
The next year, when we stayed home for Christmas again, I had everything I needed to make the Christmas tree correctly! I made two extra for my friends who just had babies.
This year, we made the Christmas tree for our ward Christmas breakfast at church. My children love helping me bake and they even love tasting the dough (which I think is gross).
We have eaten it with or without glaze. Sometimes we put green glaze on and this time I added some powdered sugar.
Writing about this has established the tradition more firmly in my mind. I interviewed Mom briefly about when and where the tradition started. Now that I have gathered pictures of the cinnamon roll Christmas trees and asked Mom all about it, I am more mindful about how to talk to my children about the tradition. We can take photos of us with our Christmas tree every year. I can tell my children about how their grandma is an amazing baker, and how she loves to serve her family by making them delicious food.
We are making family history every time we make the traditional Christmas tree together.
The actual cinnamon roll itself is not as special as the tradition. The idea that we have done this every year in the past and that we will continue to do this every year connects my children to me and to their grandmother and helps them think about the past. They know that Mommy used to be a little girl filled with excitement on Christmas morning just like them. They feel like they are part of a unique family who does their own special things to show love and create memories. They will grow up with an affection and fondness for baking together as a family. They will know that their mother loves them. I know they will, because I feel it from my mom!
Thank you, Mom, for starting such a fun tradition.
This is part of the #FHforChildren blog link up. Check out the other posts about family traditions here: