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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 30, Heather and Others Celebrated Christmas With Family

Updated on October 2, 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.

It was a cold Christmas, but no White Christmas with no snow

Christmas was very cold in 1996
Christmas was very cold in 1996

It Was a Very Cold Christmas in Oak Springs This Year

Christmas day had arrived with a temperature near zero in the morning and struggled to reach 15 degrees for a high in the afternoon. However, for the folks gathering with their families for the holidays, they were warm and cozy inside and hardly noticed the cold winter weather outside. Jeremy had his first Christmas with Peter and Sheila and was not disappointed. They had talked about Christmas at length so they were careful to get him the things he really wanted without going overboard and had added a couple of surprises. They stressed how much they enjoyed having the natural tree and the new decorations they all had made together. With the temperature was near zero overnight, but it did not snow. They had thought about doing some outdoor activities, but decided it was better to just enjoy each other’s company and play some games during the morning.


Tyler and Emily had their first Christmas in their new home in Oak Springs but Matt and Susan were careful to continue each of the traditions they had established with Tyler and Emily in prior years. They each had their own handmade Christmas stocking that was filled with healthy snacks and trinkets that the children would enjoy. They let the children play with their new toys for an appropriate amount of time before leaving for the Inn for Christmas dinner. Each child was allowed to bring along one favorite to to show grandma Karen. Tyler took his GameBoy with the latest Super Mario game on it. His parents reminded him that he couldn’t be playing his game all the time, but that was the one thing he wanted to take. Emily took her Elmo stuffed animal. There were not restrictions on her playing time with Elmo, of course.


At Bart and Diane Bevins’ house, the gathering was festive and all adults. Rather than trying to make a surprise announcement, which fit neither Jennifer nor Brian’s style, she was simply wearing her diamond engagement ring when she and Brian greeted arrivals and showed it off. Besides, their Christmas dinner group was really all ‘insiders’ who, by now, already knew the good news. Even Linda knew because Don didn’t feel it was necessary to ‘keep it to himself’ any longer when he picked her up. Don Kirk had offered to bring Linda Ogden out to Bart and Diane’s house because Christopher and Nicole would be leaving shortly after the noon dinner to spend part of the afternoon at the Evans gathering. This was their first opportunity, of course, to split their Christmas holiday participation between their families here in Oak Springs since their marriage in the fall. The engagement was the main topic of conversation among the women after dinner while the men’s conversations drifted to agriculture and conservation issues.

Family stories were shared at the Christmas gatherings

The soldier made it home for Christmas
The soldier made it home for Christmas

There Were Family Gatherings Across the Valley

Peter, Sheila and Jeremy hosted Christmas dinner this year with her family. It was actually the same grouping they had eaten with for Thanksgiving this year except that Mr. and Mrs. Grapes had decided to stay in Oregon for Christmas with the rest of their family there. The group had enjoyed having Dick and and his daughter, Peggy, Nixon join their group and it did keep Scott and Rachel at their house rather than needing to split their time. Jeremy took great pride in showing his extended family members some of his Christmas gifts when they asked. Heather recalled how much she had enjoyed showing of her Christmas presents in years past. Discussion turned to talk of what the varied adults had received for Christmas gifts when they were youngsters, themselves.


Dinner at the Evans house included the Inman family this year. That included Travis’ younger brother, Trevor Inman, a Junior in High School. It was a larger group than they had had for a long time. They were all still getting used to Travis being back as a part of the extended families and enjoying it very much. Hardly an hour went by when he wasn’t asked to tell another story about his past year’s experience. In between stories, he found himself wanting to spend time with his wife and the children. He was very generous, however, in sharing stories he could recall that would interest them. There were many things he couldn’t tell them, but there were more than enough to satisfy their interests.


When Christopher and Nicole arrived, later in the afternoon, it provided a nice change of pace and some new topics of conversation from their earlier gathering, including the news of the engagement of Jennifer and Brian. In small towns, news of engagement, marriages, divorces, funerals and births were the most consistent topics of conversations at family gatherings, where ever and when ever they occurred. This was no exception. And, of course, discussion of a new engagement, how it came about, and how it was announced always brought back memories from the past of similar situations related to other family members.

Karen had all her children with her for Christmas

A Traditional Christmas Setting
A Traditional Christmas Setting

Karen Had Gotten Her Wish Fulfilled - All Her Children Had ‘Come Home for Christmas’

Karen got her wish, of course, because the entire Winslow family was together for Christmas dinner, including the unexpected surprise in Carmen and the ‘expected’ addition with Erin. They had also invited Raynor and Randi to join them because they had been ‘like family’ through many years the the Winslow family, both in Tucson and in Springfield before that, many years earlier. In those early years, the two families had often shared parts of their Christmas celebrations together.


Everyone was anxious to see the children when they arrived. There were more presents under the tree for them, of course, and all enjoyed watching them open those gifts. Christmas is all about children, after all, it had been said. Next year there would be a new very young one to watch as he or she celebrated their first Christmas. This year, the children were a bit older, but the sparkle in the eyes and the enthusiasm were still fun to watch.


After dinner, Matt, Mark, Kevin and Raynor talked about technology and the future. The women talked about food, family, friends, children and the future. The children played with their new presents, and the boxes and wrappings they came in. It was a great Christmas gathering.

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. These first thirty episode have run in parallel with the timeline of the “Christmas at the Homeplace” novel. The theme of this novel is ‘coming home for Christmas.’ This episode coincides with the end of the novel.

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      9 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Nothing quite like family gatherings at Christmas, that is for sure, warm or cold. Snow is pretty, as long as it isn't blocking the roads. ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      9 months ago from The Caribbean

      Christmas and family gatherings make the perfect theme. As for me, the absence of snow wouldn't hurt; but truth is, I think it adds to the beauty of the season.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      9 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Nice to look forward to one strong positive each year of our lives... Thanks, Bill! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It is a magical time for sure, my friend, and it is coming soon according to the department stores. lol

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