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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 20, Heather Always Enjoyed the Extended Family Times on Holidays

Updated on July 24, 2018
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

They Enjoyed a Catered Thanksgiving Dinner with All the Trimmings

The Turkey was ready to be carved and to be served family-style
The Turkey was ready to be carved and to be served family-style

Thanksgiving Had Become a Special Time at the Homeplace Country Inn

Karen Winslow had a tradition at the Heritage Room for Thanksgiving only for family groupings (including interested Inn guests). Each family paid for their own, but she offered a fine turkey dinner, catered and served family-style, by reservation only. The meal was served by some of her normal part-time workers.


This year, 1996, there were four groups with reservations:


  1. Six couples that were guests at the Inn who chose to participate. For seating purposes, they used two round tables of three couples each.
  2. Bart and Diane Bevins led a group that included their children: Jennifer, who invited Brian Kirk, and Christopher Ogden, with his wife, Nicole, who actually got a holiday from work this Thanksgiving. The group also included Brian’s father, Don Kirk, and Christopher’s mother, Linda Ogden.
  3. Paul Gates led the group of his family including his daughter, Heather, and his son, Scott. Scott, of course, invited Rachel, but also her sister, Penny, and their father, Dick Nixon. This group also included Peter, Sheila and Jeremy Bevins, of course, along with Mr. and Mrs. Grapes from Oregon, Jeremy’s maternal grandparents, who were staying at the Inn during their visit.
  4. Karen led her own group that included her son, Matt and his family, Susan, Tyler and Emily. This group also included Virginia Hollingsworth, Amy Hollingsworth, and Mike Gardiner.


Timing of the dinner was set for the same time as the beginning of the second NFL televised game of the day. ‘If you couldn’t miss most of the first half of the second NFL game, don’t get a reservation’ was part of the advertising for the affair. The first game was available for guests, but the television sets were turned off until the meals were completed.


Everyone enjoyed the good company and the wonderful food, served family style, with plenty of good conversation. After dinner was over, several of the men and a few of the women, returned to the television screens to catch up with the second NFL game as it neared halftime.

Don Kirk participated in the musical at the Community College drama presentation

He performed in Music Man
He performed in Music Man

Heather had Learned to ‘Work the Room’ at Large Bevins Gatherings

The prior spring, Heather had a class with a guest speaker who was both a salesman and a politician. One of the things he talked about, that he said had made him successful at both activities, that really had stuck in her mind, was how to ‘work a room’ at any gathering. At the time, she immediately thought of these several holiday gatherings of Bevins Trust family, workers, friends and neighbors. He had emphasized how important it was to slowly move around the room, listening, speaking briefly with people, smiling, shaking hands as appropriate, and moving on. People remembered you more positively, he added, if you asked about them. He had said that less successful people just talked to their friends, and missed out on a lot of good information available throughout the room.


Heather had been practicing this, both at the 4th of July and the Labor Day gatherings, to keep herself informed of family affairs and community activities. She had been mildly surprised at how much ‘good stuff’ she picked up, each time, just following that simple advice. She did it a bit on Turkey Day, and now set out to do it again, today. The real key, to her, was to listen much more than talk. There was so much interesting information to learn from what people were anxious to talk about in their lives.


At what had been the Bevins table, she noticed that Don Kirk and Linda Ogden were talking about Don’s recent performance at the Community College drama production of ’Music Man.’ Linda was reminiscing about her own ‘acting’ experience in high school and college plays. Heather tucked that conversation into her memory bank. Mr. Grapes continued to regale several people with his stories of ‘the Great Northwest.’ Several folks had gathered around him, both to hear his stories and to get to know Jeremy’s grandfather better. Heather noticed that Dick Nixon, who had been at their table, had continued to stay close by Mr. Grapes, and asked questions to keep him talking.

The Cowboys led the Redskins at halftime 7-3

Cowboys and Redskins at the line
Cowboys and Redskins at the line

Heather Continued to Circulate Around the Room

Heather shortly moved on to some of the folks from the Winslow table, specifically Karen and Virginia, Amy and Mike, along with Matt. Heather soon learned that Amy and Mike planned to get married in a small ceremony at the Methodist Church on Wednesday, December 11. They thought, they said, that Christopher and Nicole had set such as nice tone with their wedding. After the Annual Christmas Dinner on Friday, December 20, they would be moving to Waco, where Mike would continue to work out of the headquarters of his construction company there. Amy had noted that her parents would be retiring from active military duty in a few years and planned to settle in the Waco area, as well. And, it was not so far away that they could not return to visit Virginia regularly.


Checking the folks watching the NFL football game on the television, Heather learned that the Dallas Cowboys were leading the Washington Redskins by 7-3 at halftime. She heard discussion of the decisions made by the coaches, Barry Switzer for the Cowboys, and Norv Turner for the Redskins. Bart Bevins was a Cowboys fan, obviously, from the conversation.


Over in the children’s corner of the room, Heather found Susan and Sheila leading the children in some activities. As she walked by, they were playing a simple matching cards game. It was unusually cold this Thanksgiving, so having indoor activities for the children was very important. Although they were of different ages, they all seemed to enjoy the matching card game. That made Heather smile, as she stopped to watch longer than she would have expected to. It was fun watching the children laugh and have fun as mistakes were made, and then good matches were remembered. She recalled how she had always enjoyed that game, herself. Soon, however, she moved on to see who else she had not spent a few minutes with.

[Continued in Episode HG 21]

Author’s Note

This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may have seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total. This episode runs in parallel with the timeline of the “Christmas at the Homeplace” novel. The theme of this novel is ‘coming home for Christmas.’

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      11 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Dora, for your observation and comment. Togetherness is a very good thing! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      11 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Yes, Bill. She has decided to stretch herself, in order to experience more of the world around her. Hope it works out well for her!! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      11 months ago from The Caribbean

      There seems to be something interesting for everyone, including the children, at the Thanksgiving gathering. Wonderful togetherness!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Heather is a social butterfly, unlike me who finds a corner and sits in it, uncomfortable in a group setting like that.:)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      11 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Mary for your comment that supports elements of my story. These are important parts of life. Best wishes on your Rib Night!! ;-)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      11 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I always love family gatherings even if it means too much work. We will soon have our Rib Night and the family is always expected to work the room to make everyone in our bay feel at home.

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