When I was growing up, I knew that as I raced past the kitchen on the way to the living room to see what Santa had left us, I would catch a glimpse of my mother standing at the kitchen counter. She was chopping celery for the giblet (what is a giblet and why would anyone want to eat one?) dressing for our Christmas dinner which was an exact repeat of our Thanksgiving dinner…with one minor change: my mother usually swapped out the Pineapple Cottage Cheese Lime Jello salad from the Thanksgiving menu for a festive Tomato Aspic Gelatin Salad with Pimento-stuffed Green Olives.

There are some holiday food traditions that are better left to die a natural death – giblet dressing and Jello salads fall into that category. So early on in our marriage, I started my own Thanksgiving and Christmas morning tradition: homemade Cinnamon Rolls.

I always make the dough the night before – once again putting my 30 year-old Kitchen Aid mixer through its paces because I always make more dough than the bowl is designed to hold. I’ve come to find out that yeast dough is really quite forgiving. It can be left on the counter to rise – poke it with your finger and if the hole starts to fill in, it needs to rise more. After that, I just put the bowl in the refrigerator overnight and count on the yeast to do its magic and rise a second time the next day.

Ready to pop into the oven.

Ready to pop into the oven.

So on Christmas morning as long as our kids can remember, they awake to find me in the kitchen rolling out the dough…although I’m certainly not dressed like my mother. She would have been wearing a shirtwaist dress ala June Cleaver. The gay apparel that I don on Christmas morning falls into the yoga pant and baseball cap category. Another hour or so until the dough expands to fill the pan and they are ready to bake.

Is there anything in the world that smells better baking than Cinnamon Rolls? And it’s not the cloying, created-in-a-lab kind of smell that is pumped out of a Cinnabon stand. This smells yeasty and dreamy. Cutting into the squishy dough, the girls joke about using the fluffy goodness as a pillow.

While I have certainly enjoyed my share of Cinnamon Rolls over the years, I think that the real pleasure in cooking comes from watching others enjoy what you’ve made.

The stuff dreams are made of.

The stuff dreams are made of.

And when it comes to the leftover Cinnamon Rolls packed into the Tupperware in the fridge, our adult daughters bicker over who’s eating the center out of them – which is the best part – and leaving the edges. If they are worth fighting over, I know they are good; they certainly aren’t arguing over who ate the last of the Bean Salad.

I guess I’m feeling a little sentimental this year over the Cinnamon Rolls because I don’t know if our children will be home for future Christmases – when it’s just Steve and me, I certainly won’t be baking up a pan of a million calories of carbs for just the two of us. So for now, it’s another reminder to breath in the aroma and savor the moment . It’s delicious.