By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
Portales Fire Department Battalion Chief Gary Nuckols’ father died the day after Thanksgiving six years ago.
Though his father had been diagnosed with cancer 18 months earlier, his death caught family members by surprise.
“We had a great family gathering that day,” Nuckols said. “A lot of his family came from Albuquerque, which was good, all his children and grandchildren, everyone was there.”
After the gathering, Nuckols’ father became ill. The family took him to the hospital in Clovis. He died the next day.
“On that particular day, it caught us very much off guard. That was the tough part,” Nuckols said. “If there’s a bright side to that, it would be that all of his family was there. He got to visit and see all of his family. That doesn’t happen generally when things go bad.”
Even though the day holds somber memories for the family, Nuckols said his father’s death doesn’t change the way they celebrate Thanksgiving.
“We have big family gatherings every year. As a matter of fact, we had 30-plus family and friends at my house last year,” Nuckols said. “It hasn’t slowed us down because it’s basically carrying on what he believed in and that’s family.
“It’s not necessarily memorable, but it’s unforgettable.”
Weenies, the other holiday meat
Clovis resident Wayne Fulton was working in the oil fields and told his wife he’d be home for dinner. She said the couple would go to a restaurant to eat.
“Well we drove around and not a (darn) thing was open. Want to know what we ate? Weenies,” Fulton said, raising his voice.
The choice was either eat hot dogs or drive from Levelland, Texas, to Lubbock, Fulton said. And Lubbock was just too far.
“Every year, I ask what we’re going to eat. And she says weenies,” Fulton said, laughing.
Director of Baxter-Curren Hall, Vicki Miller remembers Thanksgiving in 1998.
“It was the first year for my sister-in-law to make her dressing for the family,” Miller said, smiling. “And we were all sitting around and her daughter, Ronnica, stuck her fork in the dressing and said, ‘This is dressing on a stick.’”
“You see, dressing is supposed to be moist. We teased Jannette, my sister-in-law, all afternoon. She’ll never live it down.”
All’s fair in olive and war
Lisa Mount works as a circulation supervisor at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. In her family, her mother, grandmother and aunt rotate hosting the holidays at their house.
“We all go to whoever’s house is hosting it and we just spend time with family. And my sister and uncle fight over who’s going to eat all the black olives,” Mount said with a chuckle. “They all live in Nebraska, so I’m not part of it anymore, but I call and talk to everyone.”
Chomp, chomp, ding
J’Mi Heflin of Clovis recalls the Thanksgiving of 1993.
“My favorite Thanksgiving memory would have to be watching my son eat corn on the cob without picking it up,” Heflin said, putting her hands behind her back and miming munching on corn on the table.
“It was sitting on his plate and he wouldn’t pick it up. He looked like a typewriter,” Heflin said, laughing.
Bestella Gardner, secretary at the Lincoln-Jackson Family Center, said her entire family gets together and gives thanks.
“We have ham and turkey and all the trimmings, it’s a good time for fellowship with the ones we love,” she said. “We thank God that we can see another Thanksgiving.”