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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 29, Heather Celebrated Christmas Eve With Family

Updated on September 25, 2018
Homeplace Series profile image

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

They gathered the family at the Heritage Room for Christmas Eve supper

A traditional Christmas Eve scene
A traditional Christmas Eve scene

Karen Invited Siblings and Their Families to Christmas Eve at the Inn

It had been a very strange day, weather-wise on this Christmas Eve day in Oak Springs. The morning had started off unseasonably warm. It rained hard for a couple of hours during the middle of the day and the temperature plummeted the rest of the day. By late afternoon, it really felt like Christmas weather even though no snow had fallen. That cold dampness hung on, into the evening. Karen Winslow invited her siblings and their families to the Heritage Room of the Homeplace Country Inn to share a vegetable beef soup supper for their Christmas Eve meal. Each of the families would have their own celebrations on Christmas day, so this was a good time for family fellowship with no other agenda. It was becoming an important part of the family tradition. So, in addition to herself and Lori, Mark and Erin, Kevin and Carmen and Matt, Susan, Tyler and Emily, those attending were Bart and Diane, Jennifer and Brian, Christopher and Nicole, Peter, Sheila, and Jeremy, Paul and Heather and Scott and Rachel. She also invited Raynor and Randi. They were almost like family.

As they were arriving, Lori shared a story with Heather and others about an earlier activity of interest. Raynor’s daughter, Randi, celebrated her 32nd birthday on the 23rd. They had a party for her. With her birthday being so close to Christmas, she always had asked ‘no gifts’ but had another tradition. She, and her friends at home, would go buy children’s gifts and donate them to one of the local charities. So they did that here this year. As word had spread among staff and friends, a bunch of people had participated. Karen recommended the shelter she worked with closely for women and children impacted by domestic violence. They had talked a bit about how this was an important project in small towns as well as in the cities. It had been a festive celebration among the participants. Karen, Lori and Randi had delivered the gifts to the shelter pickup point when the gifts had been collected.

Later on, someone asked Karen how she was doing, overall. She was always asking how everyone else was, now she was faced with answering the same question. She hesitated a bit, but then replied: “I really am doing fine. Thank you. Having you each, all, here right now provides a wonderful conclusion to the past, and, a great starting point for the new future. Erin, I am really looking forward to you and Mark making me a grandmother again. I love it. I love having Matt and Susan and Tyler and Emily so close now. Lori is now here to stay, she says. This was a totally unexpected gift. I really haven’t gotten my thoughts totally around that one yet. And Kevin bringing Carmen to meet his family is another blessing that is almost beyond comprehension. So I am very happy.” She paused a moment, and added, “And, I’m still enjoying my work here at the Inn and with the Bevins Trust. It is very fulfilling and satisfying. And now, further, to have a long-time friend like Raynor move to our community, where his daughter, another long-time close friend, will visit more often, it is amazing.”

They talked about their family history on Christmas Eve

A family history chart
A family history chart

After the Meal, Talk Turned to Family History Discussion

After supper, with the children quietly playing, Karen and Jennifer, when asked, started sharing what they knew about the Bevins and McDonald family history. Not everyone was up to date on what they had been discovering as they had begun to work seriously together on their research. Holiday gatherings are a great time to share and ask questions about what different family members know about their own family. The younger folks were especially fascinated about the different things, for example, that Karen remembered about ‘the old days’ as compared to what Bart remembered. They had actually lived with their parents in a somewhat different era. Paul heard a few stories about his ex-wife, Beverly, that he had not heard before, as well.

There were even more differences to hear from what Peter, the youngest, remembered, again, because of the difference in their ages. The family had also become a bit more affluent coming out of the forties and fifties into the sixties, which provided a different environment from the days of Karen’s youth to that of Peter’s youth, for instance.

Heather noticed that both Jennifer and Brian were taking notes as the discussions went on. And, they asked more questions, as well. They wanted to fill in some gaps in what they were hearing as well as verify or disconfirm some of the stories they had heard or read before. They were also making notes of some specifics that needed further research, names, places, dates, relationships. They hoped that other members of the Society were having these kinds of discussions across the community, as well, tonight and through the rest of the holiday season as families got together.

Some of the adults attended the Christmas Eve service at the Methodist Church

An epiphany scene
An epiphany scene

The Later Evening Saw Different Individuals Show Different Interests

Heather noticed that as the discussion of family history issues developed, some of the folks showed a rapt interest and participated fully while, as time went by, some drifted into other conversations. Some even took their leave for other activities. This followed well from what she and Jennifer had talked about as far as interest in family history and genealogy goes. Many have little interest. Those with interest seem to develop a passion.

Carmen eventually was asked to share some stories about her background that was so different in many ways. As she freely and gladly shared some of her stories, Heather noticed that even though the place, Tucson, Arizona, was very different in terms of social history, the stories were not really all that different. The Bevins/McDonald history in this community went back to the early 1800s, Heather knew, and Jennifer had begun to examine some history in Kentucky before that. Carmen discussed her history back into the late 1700s, but she was still learning of the earlier stories.

Everyone said it had been a ‘wonderful evening’ as they departed the Inn for home or other activities. Karen felt the warmth that each person expressed as they departed. She agreed, and looked forward to many more gatherings such as this in the future.

Christmas Eve services at the United Methodist Church at 10 p.m. this Christmas Eve provided a service primarily for adults of the church. A service focused on children had been held earlier. Among those at this service were Bart and Diane Bevins, Christopher and Nicole Evans, Jack and Mona Evans, Doc Evans, Lyle Cunningham, Grover and Hedda Inman, and Virginia Hollingsworth.

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 

      9 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Dora. I do hope some of the story rang true to you! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      9 months ago from The Caribbean

      Great Christmas Eve atmosphere with friends old and new. So inviting!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      9 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Congratulations on your season at Farmer's Market!!

      Traditions in the family are the key. Memories made. As you note!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This will be my last week of being late with comments. The Market has ended!!!!

      We always opened presents on Christmas Eve when I was a kid...not sure why, but I liked getting to see mine a day before my friends. lol


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