At TouchStar, we want to take a moment to celebrate the season with you, our readers. We’d like to share with you some of our most beloved family traditions, Christmas memories, favorite seasonal movies, holiday recipes, and general inspiration about this special time of year. We’d invite you to do the same in the comments section. We hope you enjoy this change of pace, and most of all, we at TouchStar wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
For years our extended family Christmas party finale was a “battle of the sexes” game of Gestures (a slightly more complex form of charades if you haven’t played). My uncle’s date was quite gifted, and she led the girls to victory over the guys several years in a row. My uncle, however, was not so helpful. In Gestures, you are able to select an easy word worth 1 point or a hard word from the opposite side of the card worth 4. There are four cards total you are trying to work through on your turn, acting them out for your team to guess. As my uncle stepped up, the guys were waaay behind already, thanks to his date netting 16 points. We all knew he was going to use his typical strategy of simple 1-pointers across the board.
Hopelessly behind we decided to throw the round completely for a little team revenge on my uncle for always taking the easy way out. Everyone agreed NOT to guess whatever words he was going for. Elbow was the last word, and we drug out the mild humiliation further by rigging the machine not to stop at the end. Ron touched his elbow expecting to net at least one point for his turn only to hear guesses like “touch,” “point,” “tap,” “arm,” “frustrated,” “panicked,” “confused,” etc. With the endless timer still going, he gave up after a couple minutes and let all the “idiots” on his team know the word was ELBOW, completely baffled we hadn’t stumbled upon it. Especially when his date was knocking words like “breeze” and “circus” out of the park and getting high fives from all her teammates.
Hardware Repair and Quality Team Lead
I’ve always enjoyed having an advent calendar to get the family excited about Christmas. We rotate who gets to open the door that day, and then we all guess what picture will be on the candy that will come out for a chance to steal.
First present: Each year we used to draw a name out of a hat to see who would open the first gift.
Homeless survival kits. We would purchase backpacks and stuff items like blankets, gloves, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, candy bars, chips, flashlights (kinetic), hand soap, beanies, etc. Then we would go around and hand them out to those who really seemed to need them.
Christmas came a little early for me in 2016.
About 3 weeks before Christmas, my wife gave me a box and told me “You get an early Christmas gift this year.” She never does this, no matter how hard I try. She always says no to early gifts, and that we have to wait until Christmas day. Inside the box was a baby blanket she had made, and she told me she was pregnant with our first child. We decided to keep it a secret for a little while and tell our immediate families on Christmas day.
Well my wife does the best she can to hide the morning sickness but nothing made her more nauseated than the smell of meat. A few days before Christmas, my mother-in-law decides they are going to make tamales and puts my wife in charge of tasting and shredding the meat. I just laughed as she struggled. Then we told her family on Christmas day and it was like a light bulb came on. “That’s why you were acting funny when we made the tamales!”
Every year I try to include these two movies to watch with the family: Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, and Elf with Will Ferrell. Two hilarious movies that get us thinking about the holiday season.
Chief Operations Officer
One of my favorite traditions is gathering my wife and kids early in the afternoon on Christmas day and making the 20-mile trip to the country to my sister’s house. There to meet us will be 5 of my brothers and sisters, numerous nieces, nephews, and close friends. The crowd has changed a bit over the years as my parents have passed on, but new relatives are always joining the family through marriage or birth.
The Christmas dinner is always wonderful, but the family gathering represents the true meaning of Christmas.
When my daughters were little, we drove 20 hours to Rochester, New York, to surprise my parents for Christmas. They were shocked to arrive home to a large wrapped present in their Family Room with my kids inside.
Holidays are all about the food. Eggnog French toast, pumpkin pancakes, and custard pie.
Customer Service Representative
My favorite Christmas gift? A Play Station 3 – I can watch movies, play games and access apps like YouTube.
Customer Service Representative
This my favorite dessert for the Holidays. My grandmother cooked this until she passed away in 2011, and my mom took up the recipe the year after. It is an amazing pie, and it brings back memories of my childhood.
Maple Pecan Pie
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan halves or pieces
1 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto (almond liqueur) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the flour, 6 tablespoons of the butter, the granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl; blend with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add ¼ cup cold water and stir until the mixture forms a ball. (If the mixture is too crumbly, add additional cold water as needed.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s approximately 11 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate; trim any dough that hangs over the edges of the plate and discard the scraps. Bake the crust for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the pecans in a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes; set aside. Put the maple syrup and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the butter melts. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and then whisk in the brown sugar, the vanilla, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk the hot maple syrup mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the pecans.
- Pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust, transfer the pie plate to a baking sheet, and bake until the top and edges of the pie are golden brown and the center of the pie is jiggly but no longer liquid, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool thoroughly, then serve. (Store leftover pie wrapped in foil or plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a few days.)
Customer Service Representative
I enjoy going and looking at all the lights and playing music in the car with the kids. I love the bonding time together with them.
Group Marketing Manager
I usually smoke a turkey or a ham (or both) for holiday meals. In order to have everything completely smoked by dinnertime, I have to get a pretty early start. And despite the fact that I have to set an alarm on a day off, I always enjoy that period of time before the family wakes up and before the company arrives, after preparing the turkey, to enjoy some silence, a cup of coffee, and a book or magazine in that fleeting moment of peace. I usually have an hour or so to myself before my youngest wakes up, excited about the events of the day. Seeing the excitement in his face, and then in my daughter’s (usually a couple of hours later, when she finally wakes up) just adds to my love of those moments.