During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

One of my favorite holiday memories is of our family loading up with my aunt, uncle, cousins and sometimes even grandparents every November to trek into the forest to cut down our Christmas tree. We lived in Grants, New Mexico, and the beautiful Cibola National Forest was practically in our backyard.

Usually there was snow on the ground, and we’d take a metal thermos of hot chocolate with styrofoam cups and bundle in our winter clothes to find that perfect Christmas tree. Although the tree looked glorious in the mountains, usually when we got it home, it was actually much bigger than we thought–one side was flat, and the limbs and needles were so fresh and soft that the ornaments would slide right off. But it was beautiful, it was ours, and we had picked it out together.

Now that I’m a “grown-up,” I realize it would have been much easier to go buy a pre-lit artificial tree with a snap-in stand, bendable branches–without the never-ending-dead-pine-needle-clean-up.  Instead, my parents valued doing something together in nature, as a family, and it stands out in this little girl’s mind 30+ years later. Although there are no mountains in our backyard in Plainview, our family still enjoys buying a live tree to keep the tradition alive! 😉

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Christmas Morning Casserole

1- 24 oz package frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed

Press thawed hashbrowns into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour 1/3 cup melted butter over potatoes. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until brown.

When cool, add to dish:
4 oz shredded  Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz shredded hot pepper jack cheese
One cup cubed ham
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms – optional
(I usually make the recipe to this point and put in the refrigerator overnight, then add the egg topping on Christmas morning and bake to save time)

Blend in blender:
3/4 cups half and half
3 eggs (you can add more eggs)
3/4 t. Seasoning salt

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Goes great with a cinnamon roll and coffee on Christmas morning!

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Jill Moudy is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the Plainview Campus and wife of Gabe, who is the Executive Administrative Pastor for HCF.