Once upon a time in a land far away, or so it seems now upon looking back, my childhood Thanksgivings were simpler. School was where we started to celebrate by making paper turkeys, trying to think of as many words as we could put the letters in. Thanksgiving pageants portrayed the stories of the Indians and Pilgrims, and perhaps writing a page about what we had to be thankful for. I still remember when our Girl Scout troop made costumes out of burlap bags decorated with crayon designs and beads, and put on a little show for the sick and injured sailors at the Marine Hospital in Vineyard Haven. I often wonder what they must have thought of those dancing, singing girls who came to entertain them.
This special day has changed a bit through the years in small ways, but one thing has remained constant in my family. My parents most always had one or more new guests dine with us. Once it was a young couple and their two daughters who had recently lost their toddler son, and my mother instructed us to be extra kind, and often it was friends who had no family on the Island who would join us. To the best of my memory, no one ate out at any of the few restaurants here at the time, and as there were no community dinners or Meals on Wheels, it was up to those who were able to reach out to include others in their family group. My sisters and I would set the table, and I guess in our first political statement, at least one time we filled a small dish with just six kernels of corn to remind us what little food the Pilgrims had that first Thanksgiving.
My parents would prepare the feast with my mother bringing out the large enamel roasting pan that had served as a bathtub for my two sisters and myself when we were infants. The turkeys were not the broad, plump ones of today but longer and narrow, and would fit perfectly in the pan. Most everyone purchased their turkey at the turkey farm in Vineyard Haven, where Hillside Village is now. When the turkey was ready to eat, so were we, and my mother would bring the platter to the table, place it front of my father so we had a moment to admire its beauty, and then my dad would patiently slice it and pass it out on plates to each person at the table, and our meal would begin.
That tradition continued in my family even after my marriage. My husband and I and then our children seemed to draw what we called “our unexpected guests” to our table. How fortunate we were to be able to share this dinner with many relatives, new friends, some from different countries, some residents here we had never met before. But most of all we remember that in Thanksgiving, we have thanks and giving.
Congratulations to Bob and Donna Pacheco, proprietors of Reliable Market in Oak Bluffs. They will be celebrating 43 years of marriage the day after Thanksgiving. They have two children and six grandchildren who will help them celebrate this joyous occasion.
We send condolences to the family and friends of Leslie Malcouronne, who died last week. Leslie was a friend to many, and a popular bus driver for MVRHS. We are so very sorry.
The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society will present its annual Thanksgiving Concert on Saturday, Nov. 25, beginning at 7:30 pm at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Tickets for the concert are $20 each, and may be purchased through ticketsmv.com. The concert will feature the Martha’s Vineyard Piano Quartet with violin, viola, cello, and piano.
There will be about 10 children’s quilts donated to the Red Stocking Fund this year, thanks to the hard work of the Oak Bluffs Quilters’ group, led by Glenna Barkan. The group meets weekly at her house on Pondview Drive in Oak Bluffs, on Monday afternoons from 1 to 3 pm. Glenna told me that they always welcome newcomers, and they basically do hand sewing, as machines make noise and they need to hear each other chat as they sew. Each year they make between 10 and 12 quilts to give away at Christmas. Glenna said as she is 90 now, this quilting group is the extent of her activity, but what wonderful gifts they all have created.
Congratulations to Jaime Lynn (Billings) Schwab, a graduate of Roger Williams University. Jaime recently received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California, and has accepted a position as clinician at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. Jaime is the daughter of David Billings and Toni Hanover, and the granddaughter of Nancy Billings and the late Donald Billings. She and her husband Jason Schwab recently moved into their new home in Vineyard Haven.
Save the date, Thursday, Dec. 6, and join the Friends of Oak Bluffs at Offshore Ale for its Dine to Donate fundraiser. There will be a silent auction by the friends during the event. Lunch will be served from 11:30 am to 4 pm, and dinner from 5 to 8:30 pm. A percentage of pretax food sales will be donated to the Friends of Oak Bluffs. For questions, call 508-693-6453.
And don’t forget Oak Bluffs’ popular Christmas Light Display. The Gatchel family has been hard at work decorating the family home on County Road for the past couple of months, and the result will be shown on Thanksgiving night, when the lights are turned on for the first time. In their generosity, the family only asks that you please make a donation to the Island Food Pantry, to show your appreciation for this display.
We send birthday smiles to Talia Luening and Pam Herman on Nov. 24, Deb Brown and Priscilla Sylvia on the 25th, Nora Jardin, Bill Anderson Jr., and Myrna Rogers Sylvia on the 26th, Lauren Metell and Keilla Geddis on the 27th, and Cayla Morris, Roxann Klein, and James Vanderhoop on Nov. 28.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Peace.