West Tisbury: Lots of Thanksgiving stories

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West Tisbury was full of visitors for Thanksgiving weekend. Tables big and small were set out with pretty china and sparkling glass, everyone arriving with their most special potluck additions to the holiday meal. Turkey and pies, then leftovers, now soup or turkey tetrazzini for the freezer. Whether traveling off-island or just across town, I hope it was all good.

Lots of stories this week. Everyone seemed to have one, and I ran into almost everyone I knew at Cronig’s shopping for the big day or shopping afterward to restock the larder.

Harry and Debby Athearn traveled all the way to Edgartown to have dinner with Jim and Debbie Athearn at their house behind Morning Glory Farm. Brian and Kate, Hunter, and Emmett Athearn stayed home at Run Amok Farm.

Holly Jenkinson and her kids, Emma and Peter Bario, arrived from California to spend the holiday with Joannie and Pat, Patrick, and Wyatt.

Marsha Winsryg planned a small gathering for Thanksgiving dinner. Then she had to get the house ready for her African crafts show and sale over the weekend. Paul Karasik, husband of Marsha and father of Nora, is in Italy teaching a comic book writing and illustration class, so Thanksgiving was just Marsha, kids, and grandkids.

All the Mayhews gathered at Betsey and Jack’s, everyone home except Sarah, who is back in California. Shirley was at the Artisans Fair over the weekend signing and selling her latest book, “Islander: The Circus Comes to Martha’s Vineyard.”

The Fischer and Brush families enjoyed their holiday meal and a walk afterward in one of the prettiest spots on all the Island, Flat Point Farm. Then Doug Brush and Emily Fischer prepared for the weekend Artisans Fair, where their goat milk soap made an aromatic and colorful display.

As with most families who have relatives arriving and staying from off-Island, Ruth Kirchmeier and Nelson Bryant enjoyed a busy time. Ruth’s sisters stay at their own or a rental house, but there are lots of meals together, walks, and people going in and out, a change from their usually more quiet life. Ruth and Nelson hosted folks as they arrived and began to leave, dinners on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Thanksgiving was at Susie and Joel Goldstein’s. Around the table were the Goldsteins and their daughter, Elizabeth, Nelson and Ruth, Eva Allison, her daughters and sons-in-law, Rachel Allison and Michael Agress and Jessie Allison and Dave Milligan, and granddaughters Nina and Mia Agress and Eden Milligan. Friday night was their traditional lobster dinner at the Allisons’. A special bit of news arrived with the guests, an announcement of the birth of Milo Ohlhausen, son of Eli and Natalie. Ruth joked that she “waited till I was 81 years old before becoming a grandmother.”

Alison Barrett and Jesse Oliver had eight for a daylong, but “very laid back” celebration of the holiday. Their family tradition is to begin the day with pumpkin and banana breads for breakfast, then appetizers around midday. Dinner begins around 3 o’clock. Sounds wonderful to me.

Maureen Hall had all of her kids, Emma, Mariah, and Nick HallBilsback, home for Thanksgiving dinner with neighbors Matt and Brenda Sudarsky, followed by a “really wacky family game night” that is a much-anticipated part of their celebration.

Michelle, Max, Lila, and Sydney Jasny had Michelle’s mother, Muriel, and her husband, Richard, here from Norwalk, Conn. Then Michelle gave herself a whole weekend off to enjoy some family time.

Beth Kramer, Douglas and McCaull Reid joined Beth’s mother, Joanie Hopkins, at Atria in Falmouth for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. Joining them were Pam Kramer, Bobby Hull, Gene Whitlock (Nelia Decker’s mom), and Mary Prada. Happy birthday wishes to Mary, who just turned 102.

Bill and Betty Haynes, and Bruce and Jennifer Haynes with their four kids, all went to Janice Haynes and Jeremiah Brown’s for an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone brought special extras to share; they are all wonderful cooks.

Maureen and Kent Healy had 22 at their Thanksgiving dinner table. Maureen cooked the turkey and everyone brought side dishes and desserts to go with it.

Andre and Paula Lacombe came from Plattsburgh, N.Y., to spend the holiday with Andre’s sister, Dorothy Gregory, and her family. Also at the dinner table were Shannon and Dan Carbon, their children, Bess and Jack, and guest Abbe Burt.

Four generations filled several tables throughout David and Libby Fielder’s house. David smoked two turkeys over a cherrywood fire for the gathering that included his mom, Ann Fielder, aunts and uncles Alvida and Ralph Jones and Cynthia and Howie Attebery (all five are nonagenarians), a collection of children, grandchildren, and two toddling great-grandchildren.

Cynthia spent the remainder of the weekend sharing a table at the Artisans Fair with fellow writers Lynn Christoffers and Shirley Mayhew. Cynthia’s latest book is a beautifully illustrated telling of the story of her romance with Howie. Lynn has made 2017 calendars with photographs from her book “Cats of Martha’s Vineyard,” and some new photographs of cats familiar and not so. All wonderful, as photographs of cats are. A disclaimer: My beloved and very handsome Nelson is among the cats pictured.

Bob and Barbara Day joined the group at Richard Knabel’s legendary Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s a group that changes and remains the same every year, expanding and contracting as needs be. Everyone raves about the meal and the company, and the congenial hosts, Richard, and Jim Osmundsen.

The Estrella and Pachico families got together at Greg and Heidi Pachico’s for their Thanksgiving dinner. Greg cooked the turkey and everyone else brought something for the meal. The group included Manny III and Sharon Estrella, Manny IV and Jessica Estrella with their children, Alley and Morgan, and Greg, Heidi, Amanda, and Andrea Pachico.

George and Andrea Hartman and an Island turkey left on the 6 am boat to deliver and cook dinner at Andrea’s daughter, Nina Gabel-Jorgensen’s house in Brockton. Nina and her daughter, Alison, hosted the party that included Andrea’s daughter, Ellen, and her husband, Peter Northrup. After a lovely and busy day, Andrea and George made it home that evening on the last boat.

Mary Beth Keenan returned home to West Tisbury after 10 weeks with her daughter, Laurie Mazer, and family in Philadelphia. Laurie, her husband, Brian, and their kids, Diarmud and Aine, along with a Penn hand surgeon and therapist, helped Mary Beth regain near full use of her hand, injured in 2015 and again this past August. She said, “I am so lucky and happy to be able to drive and do things like preparing a side dish to contribute to the fabulous Thanksgiving celebration at Neila Hoffman’s and Mark Mazer’s.”

Sarah Wasserman, her husband, Brian Bassett, and their sons, Henry and Hugh, came from Boston to spend Thanksgiving at Suzi and Bob Wasserman’s. I was happy to see most of them for short visits, but missed Bob and Henry. Looking forward already to their next visit.

Mike and I spent much of Thanksgiving Day in bed nursing our colds. Up at the Slocum House, Hannah Beecher, Dan, Xiaoshi, and Sunday Hull, Jared Hull, and Sue Hruby gathered for the holiday meal. They very kindly made up a package for us, so we were able to have turkey and the fixings here, sharing our germs with no one.

Dec. 1 is Charlotte Rooney’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday wishes, Charlotte. Happy birthday on Dec. 4 to my fellow columnist and West Tisbury historian and postman, John Alley.

The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury will host its annual Christmas Faire this Saturday, Dec. 3. Doors open at 9:30 am and remain so till 2:30 pm. Volunteers from the church are clipping greens and making them into their always lovely wreaths, tabletop trees, and arrangements, working all this week to get ready. There will also be delicious homemade cakes and cookies, ornaments, gift items, coffee, chocolate, jewelry. Also goodies to eat there.

At the West Tisbury library this week:

The West Tisbury Library Foundation will hold a silent auction and raffle to benefit the library from Dec. 5 until Dec. 19. Some of the many items offered include: a one-week stay in a cottage alongside the St. Lawrence River, and roundtrip Cape Air tickets to Boston. Items will be on display, and may be bid on at the library from Dec. 5 until Dec. 19. Winners will be announced at the Library’s Holiday Party on Dec. 19 from 4:30 to 6:30.

Saturday, Dec. 3, at 4 pm, MVRHS senior Willa Vigneault will present a slideshow about her junior year in Bordeaux, France, through Rotary Youth Exchange. She lived with three separate families and attended public school while there. She will speak about the differences between the U.S. and France in culture and food. French food will be served.

Sunday afternoon is the open chamber music rehearsal from 3 to 4:45.

Tuesday, Dec. 6, come meet Doug Cabral and hear him read and answer questions from his new comic memoir, “News Hounds: An Accidental Newspaper Life on Martha’s Vineyard,” a story in which canine companions play a major role. The reading begins at 5 pm.

Linda Ziegler is exhibiting her plein air landscapes and still life paintings at the Playhouse Art Space, the lobby of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse in Vineyard Haven. They are on view during playhouse hours through Dec. 8.

Several West Tisbury artists have work in Featherstone’s Holiday Gift Show, open daily from noon to 4 pm.

Our town party is next Thursday, Dec. 8, 5 to 8, at the Ag Hall. Bring a finger food to share.

Don’t forget that this week and next are shotgun season, so wear orange or something bright outside and stay safe.

I just came back from visiting Joanne Scott, asking about her Thanksgiving with her son, Ben Stafford, his wife Katie, his son Benjamin, and Ben and Katie’s daughter, Bianca. Thanksgiving in their family has lots of traditions, as Katie’s birthday also falls that weekend, so a carrot cake is an essential part of the menu. Joanne always makes the cake and the turkey. I commented that I didn’t understand what was the big deal about roasting a turkey; once you have done it you realize that it’s fairly simple, but recipes have become so intimidatingly complicated. Joanne said, “People like to make everything complicated.” We both laughed when I responded, “They need to read ‘The Gr8 Unraveling Guidebook.’” That’s Joanne’s book about simplifying one’s life, “unraveling” meaning focusing on the basics for a healthy life. Good advice.