A Christmas tradition: cake for breakfast

We spent this past Christmas with my in-laws in Indiana. It was such a relaxing time–we temporarily got to push the pause button on this whole ‘being adults’ thing and simply chill out. Be fed. Be taken care of. I love passing the adult baton when staying with parents. It’s so nice.

The manger scene had, as usual, been invaded.

If there weren’t little plastic army guys around, it just wouldn’t feel right. It’s tradition!

At least the Hulk didn’t make the cut this year. He was a little . . . distracting.

The other staple in my in-laws’ household is this Christmas tree. They swear it’s the last year for it–the tree is at least half a century old, and is held upright by a string attached to the corner cabinet.

And every year, it’s covered in ornaments. Plastered. Coated. This is necessary in order to cover the old and bare branches.

Another holiday tradition is this fruit salad.

It’s been in the family for years, and it’s always the guys’ responsibility to make it. Or so I gather. Or choose to gather.

A potential Christmas tradition in the making–playing games. My parents gave me both Dominion and Blokus for Christmas, and the fun-loving violence they generate is a holiday must. Have I mentioned that I’m competitive?

Oh, there’s my stick of Burt’s Bees! If you see some Burt’s hanging around, you can bet your bonnet I’m somewhere closeby.

However, my absolute favorite Christmas tradition is eating angel food cake for breakfast on Christmas morning. I make it Christmas Eve, and leave it to cool overnight, hanging upside down over a beer bottle.

It all started when we were young things. To get us little tykes to focus on Jesus’s birth instead of just the enticing pile of presents, my parents would make a birthday cake for Jesus, and we would sing him “happy birthday.”

In the words of my Mom, “Having a candle and singing Happy Birthday is something young children can relate to, and helps keep the ‘real meaning of Christmas’–Jesus’ birthday–in the picture for them even if they don’t get all the theology.”

The angel food cake is white to represent how God created us in his image, perfect beings in a beautiful garden.

Dad would read from Genesis:

God saw all that he had made and it was very good.  (Gen 1:31)

Then we smeared the cake with raspberry jam.

This represents sin entering the world and tarring humanity, so we would read about Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis chapter 3. There’s probably a deep metaphor underlying it all about sin tasting delicious, but let’s leave that for future ponderings.

Finally, we top the whole thing off with generous poofs of freshly whipped cream. We put the metal bowl and mixer attachments in the freezer for maybe 20 minutes prior to the whipping process–I’m told it helps the cream poof better.

Slather on that cream! We have to cover every bit of that raspberry jam! This repesents Jesus coming to earth and making us righteous and pure through his perfect life and death.

We read from Isaiah:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  (Is 1:18)

And then we serve it up!

Over the years we have stopped singing happy birthday, but we continue to make the cake and read the Scriptures. If you’re interested, my diligent mother typed up a Word document with the complete passages we’ve read throughout the years. Thanks Mom! Now I don’t have to scratch my head every year and ask myself “Now what is it exactly we read?”

I leave you with a picture of my husband with his brother and dad. I just love Christmas, and I just love these guys!

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35 Responses to A Christmas tradition: cake for breakfast

  1. Circe says:

    what a wonderful tradition. I love it when the preparation and eating of food can be so symbolic

  2. skippymom says:

    What a lovely tradition. May I borrow it for our next Christmas, please. My children are older but I would love an opportunity to share [and, I admit, eat cake for breakfast :)] Okay. I am kidding about the cake thing. Sort of. But it is a great tradition I would love to adopt.

    The Army men in the nativity screen made me happy I wasn’t sipping coffee while scrolling through. WOW! That is great. Although the Hulk may have put me off my chair with laughter.

    The guys look great. Nice family Jenna.

  3. skippymom says:

    PS – my parents HAD that tree. SAME tinsel and everything. I looked at it and thought “Did Jenna’s in-laws invade our donation pile after the folks sold the house. Dang. That looks so familiar.”

  4. Now that looks like a good time. Not to mention cake for b’fast is right up my alley!

  5. Veronica says:

    Oh, that is the coolest thing ever! I love their creativity in putting the focus on Jesus. Very very cool. I actually don’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Christmas (yes, I promise I’m a Christian–lol!) but I do remember him and his sacrifice every Sunday (and every day, really), which is what he’s asked us to do. I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating his birth, though, but we choose not to simply b/c he wasn’t even born that day and the day itself came about b/c of old pagan rituals that were done then and Christianized by turning the celebration of the return of the son god to celebrating the son of God.. We do celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, just to join in the holiday cheer–a time to gather with friends and family and exchange gifts. Strange Christians, no? LOL, I guess you didn’t need to know all that but now you know a little more about me and my hubs.

    • Jenna says:

      Veronica, thanks for the email you sent me with that article! There are some great points–and you’re totally right: we don’t actually know when Jesus’s birth was, and I’ve also heard about the date being chosen because it overlapped with a pagan holiday. Interesting stuff. Plus, secular representations are way off in terms of accuracy. That’s why I love our Christmas cake tradition–it brings us back to the heart of the gospel–the focus isn’t just on a baby being born, but on why he had to come, the promises he fulfilled, and what he did for us on the cross.
      Love ya, sister–I’m encouraged by you!! =) I love getting to know you better through this whole blogging thing.

  6. What a cool tradition! I love it!

  7. claire says:

    i would pay money to have that cake for breakfast… Love the little army man! We have those sorts of toys and action figures in our snow village each year!

  8. melissa says:

    Jenna, did you really just hop on over to read my blog?! I lovelove your blog! You make me laugh–regularly. I love your sense of humor, about life in general. And your recipes.

    And, I SO enjoyed the way you recounted your trip to PW’s ranch. Oh. My. Gosh.

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for inspiring me to declutter. It’s a great exercise, and I may just have to consider doing this several times a year as well.

    On another note, love this post! I love that you read from Isaiah (one of my most favorite verses!).

    • Jenna says:

      Hey Melissa! Yes, I really enjoyed your post about purging–the link between physical and emotional clutter really rang true with me. And you’re right–that verse from Isaiah is such a gem. My heart leaps with joy whenever I read it. =)

  9. Carrie says:

    A great tradition consists of deep meaning (check!) and deliciousness (double check!). Congrats on a great tradition!!! I’ll have to come up with a different qualification for the army men, but that is a tradition beyond outstanding.

    Adam’s brother’s hair is making me want to “encourage” Eric to grow his out again… That’s the kind of hair that makes teenage girls (coughandtheirtwenty-somethingcounterpartscough) swoon.

  10. Laura Livingston says:

    I’m pretty sure the first pic of Mark and the boys is the best I’ve ever seen! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Wendi says:

    Jenna, if we ever decide to include a manger in our Christmas decorations, I’m sure that ours would include some special guests like the Roaming Gnome, a sock money, and a nutcracker or two. Love the army guy keeping watch over the baby jesus.

    Love your tradition of the angel food cake and how it started.

  12. surlykitchen says:

    what a lovely tradition. i haven’t had angel food cake in years! did/do you always make the cake angel food or did it vary? i love it.

    • Jenna says:

      It’s always been angel food cake–I think it lends itself well to the jam and cream. Oh, and the word ‘angel’ kind of fits in.
      BTW, congrats on having that cheesecake featured today on TastyKitchen!

  13. Weighting For 50 says:

    Cake for breakfast? LOVE it!!!!
    And I am GUTTING myself laughing at the little green soldiers in the nativity scene.

  14. Mary says:

    It sounds like a wonderful and relaxing holiday. We, too, have a baby Jesus birthday cake. My children are now on their own but they have taken the tradition and made it part of their own Christmas celebrations.. I chanced on your blog today and having spent time browsing through your earlier entries, I want you to know how much I like the food and recipes you feature here. I’ll definitely be back. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  15. What a sweet tradition, literally. Delicious. I love the salvation story that goes with the cake on Christmas! Beautiful! I love home-made angel food cake. Awesome! Blessings to you…

  16. Twinky says:

    You know? Soldiers in the manger scene seem quite fitting now that you have brothers-in-law who will be out soldiering this year through next Christmas!! I will see the soldiers in our Playmobile nativity set-up in a different light next December.

    One of the things that most struck me as I compiled the scripture list for the cake was the idea of “gift”: Jesus’ birth is only a “small” part of what is the whole package of forgivenes, redmption, salvation that HE gives to US!! Wow! Talk about a GIFT!

  17. Fi says:

    Angel food cake, yum! Toy soldiers in a crib? Hilarious! Men prepping fruit salad? Priceless :)

  18. Robert Hagedorn says:

    Jenna, you could not possibly have hit the nail on the head harder–there most certainly was a deep metaphor underlying it all insofar as the delicious fruit was concerned. But the time for pondering is now, not in the future. Please do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

    • Jenna says:

      I agree–the time for pondering is always now. =) In the case of Adam and Eve, I think the ‘delicious’ temptation was being like gods, and in succumbing to the lie of the serpent they came to realize how far they were from God, and how separated from his holiness after their decision to disobey. Hence the feeling of nakedness–for the first time they realized how insufficient, weak, and helpless we are without our Creator. And that’s why Jesus had to come, to bridge the gap and ‘clothe’ us anew with his holiness.
      Thanks for your comment, Robert!

  19. Mary Beth says:

    My home church has a birthday party for Jesus after the Christmas Eve service. It is a great tradition!

  20. Lynn says:

    I love reading about Christmas traditions in different homes. Singing happy birthday is a great idea!

  21. Lonnita says:

    I had to laugh at the playing of the games. :) We always play games during the holidays also. When we got together for Christmas Eve this year we played PoKeno (everyone get your change together). My father, Elder Johnson, was the most competitive of us all, and my niece only played long enough to get money for her laundry this semester. You have to love family games.

  22. movita says:

    You had me at: cake for breakfast.

  23. The birthday cake is such a neat tradition! I have heard of it before, but never the symbolism that you and your family have attached to it!

    Also, I LOVE the purging challenge…I will do it sometime…:) haha…it’s fun to identify with all your reasons for keeping things though.

  24. Kelsey says:

    Yea for Dominion and Blokus! We play all the time, it’s quite fun.

  25. Lots of wonderful photos and exciting things going on here! I like your blog! :) xxx

  26. Kathryn says:

    Love the nativity. Love Burt’s Bees. Love that you love playing games. Love that you have cake every Christmas morning. I even love that your mom wrote up a word document for you. (Esp. because I think I’m going to save it and try it out with my girls next year!)

    I think we definitely could be friends in ‘real life’!

    I’m so glad to have meet you that wonderful weekend in Oklahoma!

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