Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra said he, his wife and a couple of their grandkids are traveling to El Paso this week to spend Thanksgiving with extended family. And the mayor is looking forward to another Spanish-flavored holiday feast.
“The only traditions we have is a lot of times, we end up mixing a lot of Spanish food in with the things everyone normally eats on Thanksgiving,” the mayor said. “Not only do we eat the turkey and mashed potatoes and all that other stuff, somebody will bring some Spanish rice. Desserts are one of my favorites, and I like the flan (baked custard), but I try to avoid that because it has about a million calories.
“I think in El Paso we may get tamales, but nobody here makes tamales. When we have Thanksgiving here at home, my mom sometimes makes what they call posteles, which is Puerto Rican style tamales.”
Segarra said he has been doing a little traveling recently, including a trip to Florida for his sister’s wedding, and from all indications, it is going to be a busy holiday travel week.
“It is a little bit crazy,” the 10-year U.S. Army veteran born in Puerto Rico and raised in Chicago said. “It seems that a lot more people are getting out.
“We were flying back from Miami and they said our plane was delayed, and every (other) plane that I tried to get on, it seemed like it was packed. And, of course, that has a domino effect. We were going from Miami to Dallas, and then Dallas to Killeen. Because that (first) plane was delayed, then all the flights going from Dallas to Killeen were booked. The only flight they had available was at 10 o’clock at night. We left Miami about 8 o’clock in the morning to go to the airport, so we were kinda stuck there.
“I’d say it was an hour to an hour-and-a-half wait in the security checkpoint, because so many people were there, and it wasn’t even a holiday weekend. So if that was any indicator, it’s going to be busy. I think we’re going to see more and more people wanting to spend more time with their families, because they didn’t get a chance to do that last year.
“I told my wife, ‘Get ready. It’s going to be an adventure just to fly out to El Paso.’”
With most of his family in the Killeen area and his wife’s family out in El Paso, the Segarras usually alternate their holiday visits for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Segarra says he feels especially blessed this year and he knows others are not so fortunate as COVID-19 continues to make headlines and the cost of goods and services continue to climb.
“I know that prices are going up and it’s going to be a challenge for people, but the good thing is since we’re going to El Paso, we’re not really involved in the planning part of it. Hopefully, they have planned over there — if not, we’ll be eating out,” he said, laughing.
As far as the reason for the season, Segarra said he is thankful this year for surviving another somewhat turbulent year, and he looks forward to a continued return toward normalcy.
“One of the good things is we’ve made it through this year,” the father of three and grandfather of five said. “We’ve gone through a lot this year, especially from my view as mayor. We’ve gone through winter storms, COVID … different challenges through the year, so we’re grateful for that. And not just at Thanksgiving, but all the way through the end of the year.
“We’re all here together, and just appreciative of all we have. It’s always good to turn around and say, ‘Don’t focus on the negative; be thankful for all the good things you have.’
“We have our families (and) our friends. We’re still alive; we’re still here.”