Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dallas Celebrities Share Their Favorite Holiday Traditions

If you said the word "holidays" to a group of 200 people, I can guarantee you that 200 different visual reactions would occur within the minds of those being asked. Some of us grew up with lots of traditions and rituals, while others did not. This time of year is magical and wonderful and part of that reason is that everyone celebrates it differently! I asked some of my favorite Dallas celebrities and media pals to share what their favorite holiday traditions were. I hope you enjoy reading their answers as much I as did. Happy holidays!!

"Every Xmas eve since I was a little boy my family has celebrated the Feast of the Seven Fishes*. Now that I have Spoon we celebrate that family tradition in the restaurant.  The next morning I drive out to my wife's family's ranch and open presents with the kids and roast a couple of prime ribs and celebrate! "

- John Tesar, Owner and Executive Chef of Spoon Bar & Kitchen and former Top Chef contestant

*The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas celebration. Today, it is a feast that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. 

"My favorite part of the season is reminiscing about the look on the faces of children as they gaze upon Santa. I spent two years helping Santa in Kerens, Texas. I actually dressed up as Santa and drew holiday shoppers to town.

Many children posed in front of me for picture taking. It wasn't possible for them to sit on my lap but I remember the look in their eyes. Now that I'm Big Tex, I rest during the holidays but I still enjoy seeing children gaze up at a 55-ft. cowboy in amazement during the State Fair of Texas each year."

- Big Tex, State Fair of Texas spokesperson and Texas icon

"During the holidays one of my favorite traditions is to have people over for some, what I like to call, 'Steve's Sassy Nog'! The recipe is so simple. Custard ice cream bases use cooked custard, and because eggnog is cooked and thick in a similar way, you can make ice cream with eggnog! Sassfab! Your friends and family will love it!"

Steve Kemble,  America's Sassiest Lifestyle Guru, member of the US Weekly Fashion Police and Event Planner

Steve's Sassy Nog 
Serving for 8

2 Cups Eggnog
1 Cup Whipping Cream
1 Cup Milk

Mix the eggnog, whipping cream and milk together in a bowl and put the entire mixture into the freezer container of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Once frozen, spoon the ice cream into the container and freeze two more hours. Serve to your friends and family's delight!

Tim Halperin (left) with brothers Andy and Adam circa Christmas 1991

"We had a couple traditions at the Halperin household growing up. First of all, the Christmas tree was a crucial part of our holiday. We would 'pre-tag' the tree we wanted at our friends' Christmas Tree Farm around Thanksgiving, then we would pick the tree up in early December. I went on to work at this tree farm for all four years of high school, netting and tying trees on cars.

On Christmas morning, my parents would hide the baby Jesus from our nativity in the living room, and my brothers and I would search for Him. Whoever found Him got to open the first present. Love that tradition in hindsight because it was all about establishing the priority for the holiday...not first to open a present, but finding Christ in Christmas first.

Finally, we all went to the local Hallmark store the morning after Christmas and picked out an ornament each year. This became a great way to remember each year and what was important to us. I love Christmas because everything about this holiday brings out the best in people."

- Tim Halperin, Singer and American Idol, Season 10

"I love the holidays one because I love being around my family. I have a really large family so Thanksgiving we all get together under one roof. Imagine 50 plus people all screaming, laughing and eating for hours. 

My family is full of traditions but theres really no difference with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving there is a spread that feeds at least 100 people because the best part is packing and taking enough togo plates to feed the family for two more days. 

Every family member brings dishes and have been making the same dishes Forever!! Uncle Denny Ray makes beef roast, pork roast, sweet potatoes and caramel cake its like clockwork. We have Turkey, Duck, Chicken, oxtails, 2 roast and ham these are the standards. 

We are known for our get togethers in Beaumont. Then a month later we have all of it all over again for Christmas Day, lol. On Christmas Eve we have gumbo and horsdouvres, open Christmas gifts and laugh all night. We sing 12 days of Christmas and laugh at the ones who cant remember and you open all gifts brought together from all families. We sing, dance, laugh and drink my moms Eggnog.  The holidays are the only times we get this eggnog its not like what you have in Grocery stores its insanely addictive. I love spending time with my family who's 5 1/2 hours away and just kicking it..... like we used to when we were young."

- Tiffany Derry, Hungry Investors on Spike TV (coming Spring 2014) and Top Chef, Season 7 and Top Chef All-Stars, Season 8

From left to right: Brandon Overbey, Whitney Overbey, Jason Myer, Bon Blossman Myer and Zakk Myer

"Since our family has two new official members, we are starting awesome new family traditions. One of them is our holiday family photo and the first one we did was in 2012. Last year, we chose to wear goofy Christmas sweaters (see photo above). This year, we have even better plans for our photo and it will include our newest addition, Rhythm Myer Overbey - the 4 month old daughter of Whitney and Brandon that blessed our lives last July. We will release our holiday cheer photo on December 10th this year! 

We dress up in holiday costumes each year. And see - I got Brandon in an elf costume with NO problem - in fact, he loved it! We have each bought our Christmas costume for our Christmas Extravaganza where we will all go to Main Street in Grapevine and to the Gaylord Hotel to see Ice. Even Rhythm will wear her costume and this year, she will match her mommy! Any granddaughter of mine will be very accustomed to costumes! Jason, known as J.J. to Rhythm, is the only one who we have to coerce into wearing his festive attire. Hopefully, he will feel the family peer pressure and just put it on! If he doesn't wear it - BAH HUMBUG on him! 

Last, on an unannounced night, those closest to us will hear a ding-dong one evening in December. Our family (Whit, Brandon, Jason, Zakk, Bon, and Rhythm) will sing carols at the door and bring tidings of joy such as eggnog, hot chocolate and a basket of goodies! We do this every year ;-) Be on the lookout for our Thanksgiving Twitter pics, we have something hilarious in store for ya! Follow our family on Twitter @bonblossman @brandonoverby @officialzorrex @jemrock_ and @whitneywhatley"

- Dr. Bon Blossman, star of Big Rich Texas and the upcoming Whitney's Having a Baby, author and scientist

Micheal and Addy pick out the McGarry's tree

"My son is 20 this Christmas, so he's too old to go to Terrell and cut down a native Texas Christmas tree. But every year we would load up the SUV with Michael, the dog and plenty of rope and take off early one Sunday morning for Wall's Christmas Tree Farm! It's the real deal. 

You ride out into the field on a tractor trailer bed and then begin your search for the perfect tree. Of course, Texas pine and firs can be a little scraggly but no matter, it was watching Michael cut down the tree that was most important! 

And by the time we got there, usually just a week or two before Christmas, they were pretty much picked over so selecting was easy. While they shake and wrap your tree, you go inside for some nachos, a hot dog and giant dill pickle. And you leave with a bag of their home grown pecans. 

You never get the tree attached to the top of the car quite right, so you wonder all the way home if it's going to blow off. It never did, because after all, it is Christmas."

- Jane McGarry, news reporter 

"My holiday tradition is basically just to relax after working like crazy all season, and to spend time cooking with my family. 

We pick recipes by flipping through holiday magazines or Christmas gift cookbooks and choosing what looks the most festive and delicious. After that we spend most of the day cooking as a family."

- Liza Garza, Owner of Sissy's Southern Kitchen and Bar