It was beginning to look a lot like March instead of Christmas on Dec. 7 as Donaroma's Nursery in Edgartown geared up for its annual "Evening of Enchantment." But the soggy rain and chilly air were no match for the spectacular display of lights, greenery, and sparkly decorations that created a warm haven of holiday spirit. Nor did the dismal weather discourage the crowds of Islanders of all ages who arrived to bask in the magic of the season. The much-anticipated annual event highlights the best of holiday traditions in an atmosphere both simple and elegant.
A winding pathway of twinkling white lights welcomed visitors who could then duck into the small greenhouses filled with poinsettias, trees, and decorations. An array of miniature lighted villages filled one greenhouse, delighting children and adults alike.
Outdoors, trees were decorated with care, six of them adorned in styles that suggested each Island town, up-Island and down. Bonfires blazed, warming frosty hands and faces. Eniko DeLisle and friends roasted chestnuts on an open fire, passing out bags of the toasty delicacies. Groups gathered around to sing traditional carols with Jennifer Kish and Robert Schellhammer and later the Rev. John Schule gave a blessing.
Wine, cider, cocoa, and eggnog flowed and platters heaped with cheeses, crackers, grapes, and cookies were replenished again and again. Friendly greetings and children's giggles filled the nighttime air.
Some of the best magic of all was found in the main building, dubbed The Crystal Palace, which was transformed into a Christmas wonderland by the creative Donaroma's elves. "Angels Among Us" was the theme and indeed they were everywhere. Winged staffers floated about, inviting guests to hang a holiday prayer or name on the tree or "See the angel within you." As they stood before a pair of feathery wings hung at shoulder height and gazed with astonishment in a tall mirror, adults became herald angels and children turned into cherubs. Hundreds of candles in intricate holders shimmered, warming the scores of visitors who packed one room as music by the bell ringers of the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury chimed.
"Every time a bell rings another angel gets his wings," promised two young women in heavenly garb, as they handed out a pair of tiny white wings to every guest.
As they reluctantly left the lights behind and headed into the wintry night, those who attended may not have actually been turned into angels. But, thanks to Donaroma's, they surely carried away enough joy and inspiration to see them through the busy holidays ahead.