Home For The Holidays

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Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays… (music composed by Robert Allen; lyrics written by Al Stillman)

I’ll be home for Christmas… (song written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent)

If you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home. (music composed by Robert Allen; lyrics written by Al Stillman)

Home is where the heart is. (Pliny the Elder, 1st century Roman author, is allegedly the first to say this popular quote.)

Where we love is home–home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

At Christmas, all roads lead home. (Marjorie Holmes)


For many of us, home brings to mind images of loving family, warmth, coziness, laughter, and fond memories.  These images seem to become even stronger during the holiday season.  It is no wonder that so many Christmas songs have “going home” as a theme.

Food For Thought  My favorite radio station has been playing Christmas music since Thanksgiving day (not continuously, thank goodness).  On one of the morning shows earlier this week, they were asking listeners to call in and share their favorite holiday song and why.  I found one response to be particularly meaningful.  A lady called in and shared that I’ll Be Home For Christmas was a very personal song for her.  Her profession doesn’t really take a holiday, so it makes it particularly challenging for her and her family to travel during the holidays.  Her profession moved her away from most of her family and friends and she misses out on some of her favorite experiences of “home” during the holiday season.  It’s a familiar story for many people.

So what is it about home during the holidays?  I have a nice house now, with my own family and our own traditions.  I never wanted to move back to the town where I grew up and most of the year I don’t give it much thought.  But the idea of not spending holidays with my parents and brother is enough to create an emotional breakdown.

I learned this the hard way when I first started teaching and moved five hours from where my parents live.  I was two years out of college and it was the first Christmas my now-husband and I were together.  And it was going to be the first time he would meet my entire family.  It was a big, nervous deal for everyone involved.  The plans were made, everything was set, and then…a snowstorm hit the week of Christmas.  Snow in my area and ice between my home and my parents.  Road conditions were not good.  My parents, while very sad, begged me to not drive on such treacherous roads.  We agreed to postpone Christmas for a week in our family.  While it was the safest choice for everyone, I was devastated.  My vision of a beautiful, traditional Christmas seemed to go out the window.  When I was in my tiny apartment, alone, on Christmas day, I cried.  I pouted.  I was miserable.  Even with phone calls from family members and my boyfriend coming over to eat dinner with me, I could not shake the incredible sadness of not being “home for the holidays.”

I still went “home for the holidays,” it just happened to be a week later on the calendar.  It’s really hard to explain why being home is so important this time of year.  But for me, there is a warmth and a connection, a love that cannot be substituted, when we gather with our family during the holidays, and family means home.  It’s the traditions, the funny sayings, the silliness, even the annoying quirks…all the uniqueness of my own family’s expression of love and joy that cannot be duplicated by any other.

Walking into my parents’ house during the Christmas season meant a roaring fire in the fireplace with the distinct smell of wood smoke.  It was lots of hugs and embraces all around.  It was the twinkling of Christmas lights and an array of presents throughout the room, wrapped in last year’s scrap papers along with a mix of new.  It was the little ceramic Christmas tree with the plastic lights inserted, made by my mom when I was a very young girl.  It was the Christmas cards displayed on shiny tinsel garland around the doorways.  It was the trays and trays of Christmas cookies and candies my mom made every year.  And the aromas from the kitchen…oh, my, a delicious mingling of roast turkey, yeast bread, cinnamon, orange, and ginger.  Walking into my parents’ house at Christmas enveloped me and my senses with everything that embodies love and comfort and nourishment for body and soul.  I cannot get that same feeling walking into any other home, anywhere, even my own.  But I do hope my daughter will always feel that same connection of love, comfort, and nourishment when she remembers our home at Christmas.

Today’s Recipe  I wanted to bring a few of those delicious aromas from my Christmas memories to you.  I think I will make it happen with this recipe for Triple Orange Sweet Rolls.  These are not your traditional cinnamon rolls.  Instead, I bring a light and airy yeast dough with a hint of orange, fill it with a buttery orange filling, and top it with a sweet orange glaze.  The smell of these sweet rolls will fill your home with the wonderful aromas of yeast bread and citrus, a truly lovely combination.  It is worth noting, this is not a quick recipe, but it is SOOOO worth it!

Triple Orange Sweet Rolls
We’re baking it merry and bright by changing up the classic cinnamon roll by infusing the dough with orange, filling with a buttery orange filling, and topping with a sweet orange glaze.


Triple Orange Sweet Rolls (makes 1 dozen large rolls)

For Dough

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (about 5 tablespoons, save rest for glaze)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TBS frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 8-oz container sour cream
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups AP flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt

For Filling

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tsp orange zest

For Glaze

  • 3 TBS butter, softened (the rest of the butter from the full stick for the dough)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 TBS frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 to 3 TBS half-and-half or whole milk


Start the dough by combining in a saucepan: butter, sugar, juice, zest, and sour cream.  Heat and stir until butter is melted and ingredients are combined.  Set aside to cool.  In a small glass, combine the water and yeast and allow to rest for five minutes.

Using a heavy-duty stand mixer, preferably with a dough hook, combine 2 cups of flour, salt, sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, and eggs.  Beat at medium speed until ingredients are blended.  Scrape down sides of bowl and add another cup of flour.  Continue to beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms.  If needed, add a little more flour, gradually, until dough holds its shape.

Turn dough out onto well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five minutes.  Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray.  Place dough in bowl and turn to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and lay a dry dish towel across the top.  Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour.

Prepare filling by combining the four ingredients in a bowl, beating until smooth.

When dough has doubled, punch down and let rest for ten minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Roll dough into a large rectangle.  Note:  I have a large (20″ x 14″) wooden cutting board that I actually use just for working bread.  This keeps my counters clean and when I roll out my dough it perfectly fits the shape of this large cutting board surface.

When dough is rolled out, spread the orange filling across the dough.  It works best if you spread it with your clean hands because your heat helps melt the butter into the dough.  Using a spoon or knife will sometimes rip the dough and your hands are more gentler. 🙂

Roll up the dough, jelly-roll style, from the long side.  Pinch the seam to seal.  Cut into 12 equal slices.  Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the sweet rolls in the pan, cut side down and spaced evenly apart.  Place a dry dish towel over the pan and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Set oven to 350 degrees.  When rolls have risen, bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and place pan on cooking rack.  Cool about five minutes before glazing.

For the glaze, combine the five ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  It should have more consistency of a glaze than frosting.  Drizzle the rolls with the glaze.  Excellent served warm.  Leftovers can be placed on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a paper towel and heated for 30 seconds.

Triple Orange Sweet Rolls
The aroma of fresh yeast bread and citrus will fill your home, enticing your guests to take a sneak taste of these triple orange flavored sweet rolls.


Today’s Helpful Products from Amazon

Microplane Zester Grater for zesting oranges

Kitchen Aid Classic Stand Mixer with Dough Hook

Large Wood Cutting Board–I like to designate mine just for bread work.

Classic Rolling Pin

9×13 Glass Baking Dish