It’s been a tricky year, and chances are you and yours are facing a tricky holiday season. Star staff are here to help, with a healthy dose of dog pics, elves on shelves, elves in freezers, and HR directors dressed up as Christmas trees
In How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the Dr. Seuss holiday classic, there are some recurring themes. Food is one. The carving of the “roast beast” in the final scene is particularly memorable to this writer. Animals are another. Beasts, if you like. First, whatever kind of crazy beast the Grinch is. And then there’s the Grinch’s dog. The poor canine who's made to pull the green-meanie’s overladen sleigh away from Whoville and up the mountain. In our call to Star staff for pictures and stories on how they would be spending this holiday season, themes similar to the above-mentioned quickly surfaced.
But the most important theme that surfaced—again nicely paralleling How The Grinch Stole Christmas—was that no matter what the Grinch did, no matter how he tried to ruin things, the citizens of Whoville went about their celebration as though nothing critical had been lost or taken away. They had each other, they had their happiness, and that was enough. Is the Grinch a scowling, animated metaphor for the coronavirus trying to come along and steal our holidays this year? If so, like in the Seussian tale, it didn’t work. See and read for yourself.
Jeremy Stonehouse, Director Of Professional Services
“Competitive stuffing is kind of a theme of ours, and can you blame us? We have a tradition of having several homemade stuffings with our turkey: sage & onion; chestnut; parsley and thyme, and sausage meat. We usually each pick one to make and it becomes a bit of a competition on the day itself.”
Monique Tyson, Digital Marketing Coordinator
“My father travels from New York to Baltimore for the holidays just to cook for me! He makes the best oxtail in the entire world, which is a well-known Caribbean dish. His prep work usually starts a week before he arrives in Baltimore, as he needs sufficient time to gather the proper seasonings and allow the meat to marinate for days before cooking. Delicious!”
Leslie Gigliotti, Senior Business Analyst
“Every year, I cook up a big pot of lentil soup and throw open the doors of my festively adorned home for a New Year’s Day open house for friends and neighbors. They enjoy a delicious bowl of soup and toast our good fortune in the New Year. Due to the pandemic, this year I’ll be setting up a takeaway service outside my door. I can’t mess with tradition and don’t want to disappoint my legions of soup fans!”
Allison Eguchi, Sales Engineer
“Since my mother’s side (the Chinese/Cantonese side) is based in Southern California, we typically have a mixture of Chinese food and classic American feasts (gigantic prime rib with horseradish sauce, sticky Chinese fried rice). For each holiday, I still receive a little red envelope with money from my grandpa, which I’ve been told will still be mailed. This year, my boyfriend and I are going to try our hand at preparing some of these dishes that I’ve only ever previously been the devourer of. Wish me luck!”
And here to your left is a beast straight out of Whoville central casting—Allison’s new rescue-dog Lacey.
Sharon Campbell, Director Of Client Success
“The 2020 holidays will be celebrated in a new home, but with the same (read: over-the-top) holiday trimmings that have brought us joy year after year. Outdoor trees lit in white lights. A “Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Love Actually,” and “Scrooged" on the TV. Two live trees. Lots of food and drink. And driving the neighborhood in search of beautifully decorated homes. I always host holiday gatherings, so this year has been different. This Christmas, I’m sure there won’t be the large family gatherings of before, therefore: I’ll decorate sooner. Play holiday music louder. Give more (my kids will be happy for that one!). With so many that have lost so much, appreciating what I do have will be front and center.”
Mandy McKee, Director Of Human Resources
"We try to go somewhere hot and sunny at Christmas, if we can. This pic of me dressed as a Christmas tree was taken on a Christmas cruise last year! We always like to decorate the house, and did so earlier than normal this year. Imagine, if you will, talking Christmas trees, snowmen, and even a hula-hooping Santa from Hawaii! That’s pretty much us every year!
Melissa Macatuno, Director Of Marketing
“Playing games and watching movies has always been a big part of the holidays for my family and me. Before opening gifts, we’d play bingo. “Die Hard” was always a must-watch (and still is!), along with “White Christmas,” “Jingle All The Way,” “Beauty And The Beast,” “Rudolph,” and all the other animated classics. My husband and I have started a few new traditions. Goodie boxes with homemade treats we mail to Florida and New York. The boxes always include Rolo Pretzel Turtles. On Christmas day, we wear matching Christmas socks, order in Chinese food, and spend the day watching movies, including … wait for it … “Die Hard.”
Rolo Pretzel Turtles:
- 1 package of buttersnap, waffle, or mini pretzels
- 1 package of Rolo candies
- 1 package of pecan halves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place as many pretzels as desired on the foil, and place a Rolo on each pretzel.
- Stick the tray in the oven for 3-5 minutes (just long enough to soften the candy).
- Remove tray from oven and quickly place pean halves on top of each chocolate, gently pressing down to squish the pecan into the Rolo.
- Let them set by placing the tray in the fridge for 20-30 minutes .
- Eat and enjoy or package them up for gift giving!
James Balbas, Relationship Manager
“We usually convene Christmas morning at my parent’s place, with my siblings and the grandkids. With baby Valentina in tow now, the events of the day itself should be extra special. We’re big Lakers/NBA fans, so we always watch the games that are broadcast on Christmas. This year will be no exception. And I’m one of five kids. We love to play games and are very competitive. Getting together means a chance to laugh and give each other a hard time. Cranium and Scattergories are a couple of our favorite games!”
Ida Britez, Sales Development Representative
“Get out into nature and cut down your own tree. My family’s been doing this for years, and it allows for lots of natural social distancing! It also allows for great photo ops! And while you can’t currently get out to the stadium to cheer on your favorite team—and party in the parking lot—you can still have a great time with an at-home tailgate. Make it a daylong event, and you can spend the day munching goodies and cheering on different teams. A favorite recipe of ours is my mom’s layered nacho dip. It’s easy to make and can be used for the at-home tailgate. On the left is my brother, Enzo, helping us get our tree. I told you the photo ops were great!
Here’s the layered nacho dip recipe:
- Salsa; sour cream; cream cheese (break it up to help it melt); shredded cheddar jack; refried beans (optional). Put it in any type of baking dish you prefer.
- Put this brilliant concoction in the oven and heat it up at 375 degrees. Keep it in the oven until it’s bubbling, i.e., the cheese is melted and hot all the way through.
- Depending on your baking dish it can take a short amount of time! Keep an eye on it! We like to serve the finished dip with Tostitos Scoops because, well, they’re just the best.
Quincy Tse, Director Of APAC
“Here in Hong Kong, we’ll be having a very important festival—as important as Chinese New Year—and that’s the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice, of course, marks the beginning of winter, but also the return of the light, as the days get longer from there on out. Similar to Chinese New Year, it’s a day for family reunions and gatherings. Companies usually let employees off work a few hours early that day, so they can go home early and help with dinner preparations. 'Hotpot' is one of the popular choices for the day! Winter Solstice will be on 21 December this year. Chinese New Year will be on 12 February. There are many traditions we follow during Chinese New Year. Apart from the reunion dinners and gatherings, we decorate our houses with red banners and watch the lion dance—which brings good fortune and chases away evil spirits.
Gemma Whiteley, Graphic Designer
“One unthinking year, my husband and I stupidly decided to buy an Elf On The Shelf. Never did I imagine the stress that this smug-looking doll would bring to our lives. We tell the kids that Santa has sent one of his elves to keep an eye on them, to make sure they’re being really good. So every night I have to stage some sort of scene for the children to wake up to, something that will make them laugh. One night I woke up at 2 AM in a blind panic: “OH MY GOD I FORGOT THE ELF!” So I snuck downstairs and shoved the bloody thing in the freezer. I told the kids the Elf must have missed the cold of the North Pole. They then kept opening the doors and windows so the Elf wouldn't get too hot. The things we do as parents to keep the magic alive!”
Pictured above is Gemma’s Elf On The Shelf, surrounded by superheroes celebrating its imminent demise in the mouth of a malformed crocodile. Just off camera, Gemma is also celebrating.
Finally, when your Star Holiday Blogger reached out to Salesforce Administrator Janel Carpenter about her holiday plans for 2020, she had just this to say: “Hi, John. I know you're still looking for holiday traditions for your blog, but this is the only plan I've made so far this year."
Happy Holidays, then, from Ajax The Besweatered Wonderdog and all the other assorted beasts here in Starville!