Since I can remember, my family gathered on Christmas Eve for our Annual Homemade Cinnamon rolls made by my brother, Anthony. Like many families there are traditions that we follow but sometimes we are unsure of the origin. Recently, I called my brother to ask him, How and when did we start this tradition? If you live in New Orleans, some of these old bakery’s might sound familiar and bring back memories.
My brother could remember back in 1973, he and our maternal grandmother, enjoyed going to vigil mass uptown at Holy Ghost Church. He decided after church he wanted donuts, in particular, cinnamon rolls. They drove to Prytania and Louisiana Ave to Tastee Donuts but they were closed. They decided to drive all the way downtown to Dixiana Bakery on Broad and Hope, but they too were closed because it was Christmas Eve and many places closed early. My grandmother was the baker in the family who taught my brother how to bake, so he thought he would go home and make his own cinnamon rolls. During those days, he said they puled out the Cookbooks and decided on a recipe. As the years went by and the internet became popular the recipe was modified. That is what started the Christmas Eve homemade cinnamon roll tradition.
So, it has been 42 years of us gathering as a family to enjoy this once a year treasure. I can remember being on a diet sometimes on Christmas eve but when that day came, I decided I would not torture myself and I would enjoy this once a year treat.
Some of our family went to vigil mass and some went to midnight mass, but whatever choice, we all would meet at my brother’s house for about 8:00pm. When you walked inside, the smell of yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg and the cinnamon rolls baking was a smell we could never forget. My brother made sure to have different kind as some people didn’t eat raisins, some no pecans but for others like me, it was the fully loaded cinnamon roll which consisted of raisins and pecans. The cinnamon rolls were all so big that one was about all you could eat. Before we left, my brother would wrap all of us a care package to go because that became our Christmas breakfast with a hot cup of coffee.
This year we will gather for our Annual Cinnamon Roll Tradition but two very special people will be missing, my mom and dad. This will be our first Christmas without my dad as he passed away in June of 2015. He and my mom who passed away November 2009, loved this time of year. My mom always said, It’s not always about the food, it’s about keeping family together to share time with one another.” Keeping family traditions alive was very important to both of our parents. We will certainly be thinking about both of them as we gather this year on Christmas Eve. We want them to know that we will cherish this family tradition for years to come.