Yesterday morning I went over to the fire station across the street to thank the guys putting lights up as they do every year. Among my happiest Christmas memories are standing outside Station 1 with a crowd of excited parents and children awaiting the arrival of Santa. The polished grille of a big red truck would appear like magic, unseen until it came over the rise on Edgartown Road, just before the station. We all followed Santa inside, where a replica of his sleigh was waiting for him. (His sleigh, of course, remained at the North Pole having last-minute safety checks before being filled with bags of gifts for Christmas Eve. That's why the firemen had to pick him up.) Secrets and presents were shared and memories made to fill children's hearts, even at 63.
Santa will arrive in West Tisbury this Sunday, December 9, at 1 o'clock. He comes to the larger Station 2 now because we have so many more children in town. Plan to come before 3 pm, as Santa will have to return to the North Pole around that time. He's very busy this time of year, you know.
Both fire stations are strung with colored lights, as is the newly planted evergreen at the point of State and Old County Roads. Tree Warden Jeremiah Brown, also a fireman, replaced the tree, and Chief Estrella and his family decorated it with more lights than ever. It always makes me smile and feel welcomed as I drive home from down Island. Thanks to them, and to Tony Cordray, Bob Hennessey, Brynn Schaffner, of Station 1, and especially to Kenny Mastromonaco, who was actually on the ladder.
It seems odd to be writing about Christmas when I'm sitting outside, barefoot, writing this column on my front porch.
We have begun letting Porter outside a bit during the daytime, and I want to keep an eye on him as much as I want to enjoy the mild morning. His first outing ended about 30 feet up in a tree. He would climb down only so far. Fortunately, a husband with a 28-foot ladder dealt with the situation. Yesterday, he followed Talley and me out to my studio, and today he is running around the yard, close by and only up about six feet before he jumps back to the ground. He's learning. I can't remember how we taught Grace about being outside, and I don't remember her getting into half the things Porter already has, inside or out.
The West Tisbury Church Christmas Faire is this Saturday, Dec 8, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. The fragrance of evergreens sets the ambience, as home-made wreaths, tabletop trees, kissing balls, and centerpieces fill pews and windows throughout the church. There are also decorations, gifts, candles, and the most delicious baked treats in town. Lunch will be available mid-day.
Chanukah begins at sundown Saturday night. There will be a service at the Hebrew Center beginning at 5 pm, a very pretty service with everyone's menorahs lit at the front of the sanctuary. Bring your menorah and join everyone afterwards for a potluck dinner. I can hardly wait for potato latkes with the Cabots and Vadaszes on Sunday evening, to the candles lit on our menorah night by night till there are eight, for the familiar blessings, and happy memories.
So much going on around town. I'll start at the beginning. Don't forget to wish Josephine Merry a happy birthday when you see her. Josephine, the daughter of Kara and Matt, will be 8 on December 7, old enough for her own library card.
Happy birthday wishes, too, to my fellow West Tisbury columnist John Alley, on December 4.
Ellen Weiss has returned home this week after a merry extended Thanksgiving trip to New York City. The holiday meal was shared with near and distant relatives at her brother's downtown loft. They got power back just in time for Ellen's arrival after Hurricane Sandy and the nor'easter. A highlight of her time in the city was a day spent at the Metropolitan Museum.
If you haven't bought your tree yet, consider going to Middletown Nursery this weekend and supporting the West Tisbury 6th Grade Christmas Tree and Holiday Bake Sale. Wreaths, garlands, and poinsettias will also be available. Hours are Friday, Dec. 7, 4 to 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 8, noon to 7 pm; and Sunday, Dec. 9, noon to 5 pm. Money raised goes toward their 8th grade trip.
The Minnesingers Holiday Concert is this weekend at the Whaling Church in Edgartown. Performances are Friday, Dec. 7, 8 pm, and Saturday, December 8, at 4 pm. Tickets are $15 and $10. There is a rumor that Santa may stop by Saturday afternoon if he's not too busy.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the new library addition will take place next Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 12 noon, at 1042 State Road, hardhats and shovels optional. There will be speeches by West Tisbury selectmen and library trustees, and a brass band concert. Snacks, too. A second special groundbreaking for kids will be held at 3:30 that afternoon. Celebrate yourselves for all your support and hard work, as well as the Trustees, Staff, Friends, Foundation members, Selectmen, donors, and members of various committees who have gotten us here.
Janet Bank invites everyone to our Town Holiday Party at the Ag Hall on Thursday, Dec. 13, from 5 to 8 pm. Please bring a dish to share. There will be food, friends, and music in the prettily decorated hall.
There will be a special Christmas Concert this year at the Howes House, Saturday, December 15, at 2:30 pm. Heidi Schultz describes the concert as beginning with a performance of the Vineyard Sinfonietta, followed by mezzo-soprano Martha Hudson singing carols. The audience will be invited to join her. It sounds like the beginning of a new holiday tradition in town. The concert is free, although donations are always welcome.
Katherine Long has announced the date for her Winter Solstice Party – Sunday, December 16, noon to 9 pm. It's another of West Tisbury's best parties, known for great, creative, and abundant food, and scintillating conversation.
Also on the 16th, there will be a Holiday Concert at the West Tisbury Church, beginning at 3 pm. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the installation of the church's organ. Organists Phil Dietterich and David Roderick will perform, as will the West Tisbury Church Choir, in a program featuring choral and instrumental Christmas music. There will be a reception following the concert. Admission is free and all are welcome. Donations will be welcome, to go toward maintenance of the historic organ.
Libby Fielder is looking for children ages 5 to 13 to take part in the Christmas Pageant, the church's Christmas Eve service at the Ag Hall. Children of all faiths are welcome to participate. There will be a casting meeting at 11 am on December 16 at the church. Roles to be filled are Mary, Joseph, two shepherds, three wise men, ten angels, one donkey, two or more sheep. Call or email Libby at 508 684-8086 or email@example.com.
If you are looking for the perfect present for a dog-owner, or a refresher for yourself, our resident veterinarian, Dr. Connie Breese, has written "Head to Tail Wellness," what you need to know to raise a healthy dog. It is available as an ebook from Amazon.
For arty or exotic presents, Patricia Cliggott and Marsha Winsryg continue their home-based gift shows on weekends through Christmas. Patricia's Lovingkindness Gift Show, at her home on Indian Hill Road, features handmade items, a percentage of the sales going to Hospice of MV. She is open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 to 4. Marsha sells African crafts collected on her travels at her home off New Lane. Follow the signs. Sales help disabled Zambian children and their families.
Our neighbors, Annie and Jeremy Bradshaw, have re-located their business, MV Tile, from the Airport Park to 123 Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, next to Vineyard Scripts. With more space all on one floor, they have designed an art gallery setting, showcasing tiles from all over the world. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 to 5; weekends by appointment; 508-693-7707.
I'm ending on a sad note, as two men I was very fond of have died recently. George Thibault was a fellow artist, one of my companion judges of Adult Art at the Ag Fair every summer. He was unfailingly kind, gracious, articulate in his arguments in favor or against whatever we were discussing at the moment. And funny. His sense of humor lightened our evenings. I always enjoyed seeing him and Sally on any occasion. My condolences to her and to their family and friends.
The other gentleman is Ben Paul. Ben was a real guy, hearty and willing to help in any situation. He was the father of my dear friend, Diane Wall, and Mike and I were privileged to know Ben and Fudge (Florence) for the many years they lived in the little in-law cottage behind Diane and Howard's. Ben always had a twinkle in his eye, and his huge arms enfolded his beloved granddaughters as easily as he could have lifted a car. His physical strength ebbed as he aged, but the strength of his presence never did. My condolences to Fudge, Diane and Howard, Hillary and Tessa Wall, Jan Paul, her husband Rich Rooney, and their daughter Janaye, the old friends Ben had in New Haven, and the new ones he made here.