Why My Family Prefers Christmas Day Breakfast Over Christmas Lunch Every Time

Even the adults get excited to wake up.

Cinnamon Roll Strata
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Firstly, sausage balls. Need I say more? If you’ve ever had a proper Southern breakfast, it should come as no surprise that it could easily outperform the dishes and casseroles that make up the typical Christmas lunch. We have the pleasure of seeing most of those as Thanksgiving, anyway. A Southern breakfast can be a truly extraordinary thing, and the biggest holiday of the year calls for bringing out the very best of Southern breakfast recipes.

We’re talking cheesy grits casserole and gravy-covered biscuits. A glazed pecan Bundt that your mother considers a side dish instead of a dessert, as if the buttermilk pancakes couldn’t stand on their own. A mound of bacon bigger than Santa’s bum. These are the reasons why adult Southerners will roll out of bed at seven in the morning on Christmas Day. No matter how old you get, it’s nice to kickstart the day with such cheer, and my mother’s annual menu is something to get excited about. 

Grits and Greens with Brown Butter Hot Sauce
Iain Bagwell

Over the years, my family slowly became a Christmas breakfast crew, leaving lunch where it belongs: at dinnertime, when we've finally digested all the sausage balls and grits. Lunchtime was when the kids played with their new toys, while the grownups watched with a full belly and a smile. Later, a nap is necessary. A long, leisurely Southern lunch wouldn’t allow for a nap. A big holiday meal requires much preparation, and luckily breakfast casseroles, frittatas, and such are easy to prep ahead and pop in the oven. 

Sometimes, Christmas breakfast spills into lunch territory as more grazers show up for a slice of quiche, again making a whole extra meal afterwards redundant. My family remains at the ready with extra plates and forks well past noon. All this to say, I’m not degrading the existence of a later Christmas dinner, as that gives plenty of time for getting hungry again for those who like to keep the festivities going. Southerners aren’t scared of two feasts in one day. We’re built for it. We’ll even go back for seconds. 

There are so many ways to celebrate the holiday season with your family and friends, even if it's a Christmas Day lunch. However, if you've been looking for a way to switch up your usual family Christmas Day celebration, consider this the perfect new tradition. We've even got the Best Holiday Brunch Recipes to get you feeling inspired. As for me, you’ll find me by the pancakes. 

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