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Enjoy some of the traditions our staff families celebrate each year.

Senior Pastor Mike and Kelly Adkins 
We love the holidays, and probably have too many traditions to count! A few fun things we always do —

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. We watch the old show together and have Snoopy’s “untraditional” Thanksgiving feast of popcorn, toast, pretzels, and jelly beans, with a little protein thrown in on the side so we don’t sugar out!

Cocoa Christmas Light Drives. We take impromptu night drives for 30-60 minutes throughout the season. After everyone thinks we’re settled in for the night, we announce the surprise and pack cocoa and blankets, jump in the car, and turn up the Christmas music (and turn down the AC if needed!). We drive around our favorite neighborhoods to see holiday lights.

Disney Hotel Tour. We always reserve a night to monorail and boat around to check out the beautiful decorations at all the flagship Disney hotels.

Holiday Fridays at the Morse. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we purchase and decorate our Christmas tree as a family during the day, then head out in the evening for dinner and a walk through the beautiful Morse Museum of Art as a local group plays live holiday jazz or chamber music. It’s free from 4-8p on Fridays throughout the holidays.

Pastor Clint and Jeanne Harrison, Grace Oviedo
Growing up, my family (Jeanne) always shared our hopes and goals for the new year on Christmas Day. We recorded them in a journal and reviewed the previous year’s entries every Christmas. We have stacks of journals dating back to when I was a little girl! It’s neat to watch the journal entries progress from silly goals to athletic goals to spiritual goals as we matured through the years. Clint and I have continued this same tradition with our own kids.

Pastor Grant and Angela Nixon, Grace Winter Garden
Every Thanksgiving morning and Christmas morning, I make baked French toast casserole by Pioneer Woman. Recipe here. 
Our tradition for presents is we just give 7 per child:

1. Something you want
2. Something you need
3. Something you wear
4. Something you read
5. Something to give (we have each child give a present away to someone they choose)
6. Something from Santa (Santa only brings one thing)
7. Something to cuddle (pillow, stuffed animal)

Pastor Rick and Christie Garrett
One of our favorite holiday traditions is Cornbread Dressing:

  • 7 slices white bread (dried in warm oven)
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers (crushed)
  • 9”x9” cornbread (crumbled)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 c chopped celery
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 7 c chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 T poultry seasoning
  • 5 eggs (beaten)

Preheat oven to 350 °F.
In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices and crackers; set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the onion & celery mixture over the bread mixture. Add the stock, mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add poultry seasoning. Add 5 beaten eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased pan and bake until dressing is cooked through, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Pastor Chad and Hilary Wyatt
Every year our Christmas Day had three parts: Morning, Afternoon and Evening.
In the morning we would get up, have pancakes and open presents at home. Most Christmases, I remember someone else joining us for this part of our Christmas Day. It may have been a church member that recently went through a divorce, someone living temporarily in the United States for a job or school, or someone whose family was not nearby. This example of generosity has greatly influenced my own adult life.
In the afternoon we would go to my Grammie and Grampie’s house. My Grammie was a great cook and one of my fondest memories is her gingerbread, which I only remember her making on Christmas. Each Christmas Day I still continue to make her Gingerbread and Lemon Sauce.
In the evening we would return to our house, and close family friends with their kids would come over for spaghetti dinner. This is also a tradition we continue to carry on with wonderful friends here in Orlando.

Ricky and Leah Ortiz, Winter Garden
I make these cookies every year — so yummy! As for other traditions, since we’ve lived in Florida, we like to crank the AC real cold when we decorate the tree and enjoy some hot cocoa, blankets and Christmas music. Then we usually find another night to drive around our neighborhood to just enjoy all the Christmas lights.
Ricky’s family always celebrates and does gifts on Christmas Eve, but that is a church day for us, so we always FaceTime with them on Christmas Eve real late at night. Such a sweet time! 

Ben and Haley Thomas, Oviedo
In our family (Haley), the kids always get pickles in their stockings — just because we love them.

Carter and T Munroe, Winter Garden
We’ve always served at church on Christmas Eve, leaving no time to make a proper Christmas Eve dinner. Thus, it’s always Chinese take out after the last service with a holiday tablescape. Might sound lame, but it’s special to us, and we really look forward to it after a long day at church!

Rachel Hale, graceKIDS! Orlando
In my family, we all get new PJ’s on Christmas Day, and we have to wear them all day. There is usually a theme. I have already informed John (my fiancé) this is a new tradition in his life!

Kelley Reinoehl, graceKIDS! Orlando
Our family traditions always involve food!  Every Thanksgiving, we have Asparagus Pea Casserole (the only way my mom got me to each vegetables was to smother them in cheese!). And every Christmas morning we eat my grandma’s breakfast casserole as we open our stocking gifts.

Olivia Drenth, GraceStudents Orlando
My most favorite tradition for Thanksgiving is having Jello Pretzel Salad during the meal. It looks like this and is delicious, and since it’s called a salad, we can have it during dinner and not as a dessert, which justifies having two pieces in one sitting. My mom makes it every year and I look forward to it every single Thanksgiving Day!

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