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Thanksgiving traditions run deep, and delicious

Area residents lists favorites, dislikes, reasons to be grateful
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Thanksgiving traditions run deep, and delicious
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Traditions are kept for many reasons, even if we’re not sure where they began. People are creatures of habit, which may explain some established practices. Other than turkeys and oinkers, the typical customs of Thanksgiving are free of complaints simply because they are so ingrained.

Local residents were caught, most of them as unaware as feathered butterballs, about their rituals associated with our federal holiday. Commonly celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, it is associated with the giving of thanks, prayer, feasting, spending time with family, football games, parades and making lists for Black Friday shopping.

The first thanksgiving event in America began in October of 1621 following the first harvest in the New World by the Pilgrims. It lasted three days, though it is unknown whether there was a football game that lasted that long.

One writer with the Ennis News, who once served as editor, leads off a list of respondents, who were all asked the same questions.

Randy Bigham / Journalist, Historian

His favorite meat on Thanksgiving is ham, with cranberry sauce his favorite addition. Green bean casserole tops his list of sides, along with fruit salad. His least favorite item is turkey, though he counters it with pecan pie as best dessert. He wouldn’t be a Texan if tea wasn’t his choice of beverages.

As for location to celebrate the holiday, staying home is preferred to going out. “Just being together” is his most memorable tradition. Randy says of what he is most thankful for in 2020, “that positive change is coming.”

Gary Goodwin / Band Director

Turkey and cranberry sauce - straight from the can with the ridges on it, is the first choice of the maestro. Sides are corn casserole and green bean casserole, with fruit serving him as a salad. His least favorite sight on the plate is beets, odd coming from the man who excels at keeping beat.

Serve him pumpkin or pecan pie, and tea to drink. Having relatives at home is his favorite spot, where watching the Macy’s Parade, something he once performed at, sports on TV, and performing at a HS football game the day after… but not this year.

“I’m thankful to have the entire week off,” he said, “but Go Lions the following week through mid-January.”

Becky McCarty / Main Street cheerleader

She placed the pom-poms down long enough to answer, turkey, giblet gravy, stuffing and cherry salad as yummies, and then said it’s “not possible” to have a least favorite item.

When it came to dessert, she added, “Better than sex, chocolate layer dessert.” Homemade eggnog was her beverage of choice. She’d rather host than leave the house, and turning on the Christmas lights is her No. 1 activity. This year’s thankful list is topped by “my health and loving family.”

Don Drake / Athletic Director

Fried turkey, giblet gravy and homemade dressing are favorites, though he doesn’t eat salad so he “can save space for other items.” He likes candied sweet potatoes, pecan pie and the world’s favorite beverage, water. Staying home is desired, perhaps to access leftovers and watching football. He is thankful for the goodness of God… and an Ennis Lion who wears No. 18.

Russell Thomas / Former Ennis Mayor

Turkey, ham and boiled shrimp, his version of surf ‘n turf, includes cranberry sauce, giblet gravy and horseradish sauce - his go-to faves, with sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, fresh broccoli from the garden and fruit salad. A big no-no, olives.

The man who wielded a wooden gavel for 16 years digs pumpkin pie and chocolate margarine pie. As beverages, he says “all.” He likes to stay home, but welcomes daughter Becca and Michael (son-in-law). His tradition has an annoyance attached, “Eating and watching football while everyone talks around me so that I can’t hear.”

He is thankful for the blessings of family, friends, parents and our Lord.

Lezley Norris / photographer

She paints outside the lines, so choosing salmon, sweet potatoes and Ambrosia fruit salad are no surprise. She goes for cherry pie, unsweet tea, and anything with Crimson Tide printed on the front. She doesn’t care for turkey, likes to stay home, taking a nap after eating, and her gratitude in 2020 is remaining healthy, continuing to work and the boys, who have four legs and wag their tails.

Willie Everett / FreshPet Point Man

His best meal is “feasting on a Cowboys win,” though he could lose weight this year. He enjoys gravy, green bean casserole and questions any salad on the menu. His least favorite thing is “helping to clean up.” Pumpkin pie and unsweet tea are demands.

Grand kids visiting for the entire week means staying home to enjoy them, along with family, friends, and football. Willie’s thankful for family, friends, Freshpet, health and Ennis, he said with a wink.

David Kilpatrick/ Girls Basketball Coach

Going on 15 years with a whistle allows him to say fried or smoked turkey, cranberry sauce and giblet gravy, mashed taters and pink salad. Cherry pie and un sweet tea make the grade, but yams do not.

Killer, as he is affectionately called, would rather go visit relatives and watch the Cowboys. Did he say, pink salad? He is thankful for his faith, family, friends and his team.

Dondre Johnson / Football Dad

He says ham as though everyone does, then adds cranberry sauce, dressing, and says, emphatically - “No salad, it’s all meat,” though turkey is not allowed. He hankers for 7Up cake and pound cake. He digs staying at home “but picking up extra plates elsewhere” is welcomed.

Watching football, something he played at Ennis in the late 1990’s, is a must. “I am very blessed to be here,” he says. He contributes to Ennis News’ Pigskin Pickers. His son wears No. 98 and plays on the D-Line for the Lions.

Paul Willingham / Ennis FB Coach

Smoked turkey and cranberry sauce are common, but referring to dressing as a vegetable remains questionable. Salad with bacon, peas, onions, mayonnaise pleases the longtime coach, as does pecan pie and tea. Just don’t sit green beans in front of him.

Family coming over to his home is a tradition, as is “just gathering with family.” He will be thankful to “complete the HS football season,” which COVID-19 still threatens.

Deb Thompson / Ennis News staffer

Her turkey day menu does not include that bird, but rather, rib eye roast, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and tossed salad. Since turkey is out, so is its partner, cranberry sauce. Apple pie and milk prove her stars ‘n stripes.

Her and guitarist husband Steve like going to visit relatives and tuning into football. “My family is well and healthy,” she said of her reason to be thankful in 2020.

Malcolm Cole / Avalon FB Coach

Trending - fried turkey with giblet gravy, as well as stuffing, green bean casserole and fruit salad. As for yams, not so much. His taste buds prefer sweet tea and “pretty much any cheesecake known to man.” Cole likes to stay home and to watch the sport played on a gridiron surface (football).

“My wife and son, family, health and our Avalon ISD family,” he said of his thanksgiving focus.

Kevin Noack / Palmer ISD Supt.

The bearded Head of Schools, enjoys turkey, his wife’s homemade cranberry sauce and dressing with hatch green chiles and sweet potato casserole. He answers the question, “Did you leave room for dessert?” by saying,”Yes, as long as its blueberry cream cheese jello salad.”

His dislike at the table doesn’t exist, though Texas Chocolate Cake and unsweet iced tea make him a happy camper. He plans to stay home, relax and to decorate the house for Christmas. Are the last two even possible? Noack’s thankful that his family has stayed healthy.

James Hartman / Ferris ISD Supt.

Just as sure as taste buds vary, Cajun smoked turkey makes his palate delirious. He goes for cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, homemade dressing, scalloped potatoes and fresh fruit salad. Hartman advises those in the kitchen to hold the sweet potatoes, but seeks seconds on pumpkin crisp pie and thirds on unsweet tea, as those will prompt an automatic A+ from him.

Staying home this year holds special meaning in 2020. “We’re gathering with aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mother’s side for food and fellowship and a Cowboy’s watch party,” he explained. “COVID has interrupted the gathering this year and it remains to be seen whether the Cowboys will be worth watching,” he opined, especially on a full stomach.

Hartman’s thankful for his family, the freedoms Americans still enjoy and for the Savior.