As with many of you, I have been watching the unfolding story of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a town very familiar to me; it's about half an hour away from Ridgefield, where I grew up. The story is so compelling, sadly familiar, wrong beyond what most of us experience as reality or morality. Having grown up in the, in retrospect, care-free 1950s, I have trouble with our increasingly locked-down country, surprised that even some Vineyard schools are kept locked, that our airport looks like a fortress. Metal detectors, armed security guards and police, surveillance cameras. Our era of air raid sirens and hide-under-your-desk drills never had the fear-inspiring accompaniment of 24-hour news or computer visuals. I never feel unsafe, don't ever think about it. I am heartbroken that this is the world we are passing along to our children and grandchildren.
Writing this, I don't know whether it's better to begin or end my column with the thoughts above. Hanukkah has been celebrated; Christmas and Kwanzaa are almost here. I still feel happy looking at the lights and decorations, sharing cheerful greetings, attending wonderful parties with all of our friends. I guess I have chosen to begin with sadness and end with the exuberant anticipation I always feel this time of year.
The party of parties is always the Winter Solstice I still think of as Katherine and Tom's. His spirit always feels close that Sunday between noon and nine, as the house fills with what seems like the entire island. Katherine put out golden sun balloons along the drive and a festoon of soft blue lights to guide partygoers. Warmth and happiness greeted us inside. I mention David Steere's venison meatloaf and the kale salad discovered by Katherine on epicurious.com and prepared by Judy Worthington. They were, for me, the standouts in a totally outstanding array of things to eat and drink. I went on the early side this year, so when I left for home around 4:30, it seemed like the sky was already lighter.
Katherine had terrific help this year. Tom's daughter, Wendy, was here. The four grandkids, James, Lydia, Jennifer, and Irene not only helped prepare, but greeted guests, took photographs of all of us, kept track of who brought what, and kept tables filled and refilled and refilled again throughout. If you are a Facebook looker, check out the pictures on Katherine Long's page. There are photographs of the floral displays from Mariko Kawaguchi, her students, and co-workers at Donaroma's.
There was a mistake in last week's column. My bowl, creamy-glazed, incised, and ornamented, was made by Lisa Strachan, not Jennifer. Oops.
Nancy Dole called last night and we had a long chat about her holiday plans for her grandchildren. Ayelet and Aviva Abramowitz have already celebrated Hanukkah with their parents, Meg and Seth, at home in Jamaica Plain. They were very excited lighting the candles on their menorah and singing the prayers with their father. Soon they will come to the D'Antonio/Dole home for Christmas. Nancy and Carlo have a family dinner on Christmas Eve and a "food all day long" Christmas Day. Milo D'Antonio will attend with his children, Marissa, Lucas, Lazlo, and Leigha. I hope everyone reading this column can keep a secret. Nancy has brought home a four-year-old black-and-white pony named Libby to surprise the grandchildren. Truth be told, Meg told Nancy that her girls had never asked for a pony. But Nancy is looking forward to training it for them to ride, and she wanted a pony. I can't wait to hear how it all turns out.
The Christmas Eve Pageant begins at 5 pm at the Ag Hall. Come early. The candlelight Christmas Eve service will be held at the West Tisbury Church at 10 pm.
The library will be closing at 3 pm on Monday, December 24, and will be closed Christmas Day. There will be no Monday Night Movie either Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. The Mother Goose on the Loose story times will take place as usual: Mondays and Fridays at the old library on Music Street; Tuesdays at Martha's Vineyard Community Services; Thursday, December 20, at the Oak Bluffs Library and December 27 at the Vineyard Haven Library. All begin at 10:30 am.
A reminder that the Martha's Vineyard Magazine photo contest deadline is December 31 at midnight. Call or email Nancy Tutko at 508 693-4311 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know the holidays can be magical for some, painful for others. May we all know some moments of joy and peace amidst it all. As my friend, Joanne Scott, says, "Take a nice deep breath."