Town Column : West Tisbury
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is, to me, all about being mindful and appreciative instead of taking things for granted. Most years Mike and I have Thanksgiving here, with tables spread from one end of our dining room into the sunroom, about 24 feet across the back of our 28-foot house. This year we did something different. Mike and I left Wednesday morning for four days in Redding, Conn., with my family.
Instead of talking on the phone Thanksgiving morning while we are making stuffing and getting the turkey in the oven, talking about our plans for the day, wishing we were together (although we always are in our hearts) I just walked down the stairs from our bedroom to have coffee in my brother Andy's and his partner Edward's sunny kitchen. Their dogs, Gabby and Irving, barked and wagged their tails to greet us. After breakfast, we went for a walk at the Anna Hyatt Huntington Preserve. Now owned by the town of Redding, it was the former home of the famous sculptor, the entrance to the property still guarded by a pair of wolves on the left and bears on the right. It is a beautiful place to walk, much like our Land Bank and Sheriff's Meadow preserves, but with the hills and rocky fields of my childhood rather than the horizontal vistas of our Island walks. The trees are so tall after living on the Vineyard; 50-plus-foot trees are not uncommon.
My brother Michael and his partner Fred arrived mid-afternoon, carrying a basket laden with mince pie and early Christmas presents for Mike and me. Our oldest brother Mark stayed in Enfield, but the rest of us arranged ourselves at a beautifully set table and shared a perfect turkey dinner. My grace was thanks for being with so many of the people I love most in the world and who love me the most.
Friday morning we went to Ridgefield, where we grew up, for our walk along Main Street. For so many years of my life, that was my daily walk, downtown and back from our house with whichever dog I had at the time. Mornings I picked up The New York Times at Squash's (aka The Ridgefield News Store, that surprisingly no longer sells newspapers). Evenings were just for exercise. My parents' house is gone, replaced by a grand white-painted brick McMansion. The hemlock trees in our back yard, started from whips by my father, are gone, as are the Hawthorne and dogwood trees, the fragrant magnolia, and big maples from our front yard. The Ridgefield Historical Society has placed a series of signs along Main Street; they call it "the outdoor museum." Reading the signs was interesting to all of us. For my husband it was all new. For the rest of us, it was a reminder of the history we learned so many years ago. Later in the day, we went to New Haven to see the recently refurbished Yale Art Gallery. I enjoyed seeing and showing my husband all of the paintings that were so special to me when I was in art school. That night we went back to Ridgefield to meet my cousin Michael and his family for dinner at The Corner Pub for the best hamburgers in the entire universe.
Saturday we came home. We extended our holiday by going to the Ocean View for dinner, then home to a joyful reunion with our pets. It was nice to be away and good to be home. Special thanks to our friends Joanne Scott, Leslie Baker, and Sue Hruby, who took care of the pets and made it possible for us to get away.
Although the highway traffic was light, the boat both ways was filled with holiday travelers. On the way over, we saw Deborah and Katie Mayhew and Todd Follansbee, headed to Todd's family in Maine. Sam, Enid, and Bean Hiser were on their way to spend Thanksgiving with Enid's sister. There was a very nice man sitting near us who attracted quite a lot of attention with his black lab and Dalmatian. Marian Irving spent the holiday in Boston with her son's family. Marian and her twin granddaughters, Chloe and Nichole, enjoyed a special outing together to the Museum of Science, where they danced on the musical steps and went into the Butterfly Room, a magical habitat for butterflies and plants.
Mike's cousin Dan Hull came for Thanksgiving with his wife, Xiaoshi, and daughter, Sunday, all from Somerville. John and Dolly Beecher came from Thomaston, Conn., to spend the holiday with John's sister, Hannah. The Hull family dinner this year was at Hannah's home, the Joshua Slocum house. It sounded like everyone had a good time. Mike and I heard all about it this morning at breakfast, special waffles made for us by Sunday.
Mike and I were sorry to learn that David Flanders had died suddenly. Our condolences to all of his friends and family.
As Thanksgiving ended, Christmas decorations appeared from Connecticut to the West Tisbury road, the beginning of the next holiday season.
Fairs and bazaars are abounding across Martha's Vineyard. The American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Bazaar will be held this Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 am to 2 pm at the Legion Hall. Raffles, gifts, and special foods will be among the offerings. At the same time, Grace Church's Annual Holly Day Fair takes place, featuring a sit-down luncheon of their famous lobster rolls for all of us who didn't get to Vineyard Haven on summer Friday nights.
Our church fair will be next weekend, December 13. More details in next week's column. In other town news, the West Tisbury annual holiday party will be on Tuesday, Dec. 9, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at the Agricultural Hall. All are welcome. As usual, main dishes are provided, but appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and beverages are potluck. Bring a dish and lots of good cheer.
If you are going to be home tonight (December 4) make sure to turn on your television to channel 5 from 6 to 8 pm. Katie Mayhew will be performing in Boston at the tree-lighting ceremony. Her mother Deborah, Todd Follansbee, grandmother Shirley, and Aunt Sarah are all going to be in the audience. On the following weekend, Katie will perform with the Boston Pops at Children's Hospital, and will attend Keith Lockhart's Annual Christmas Concert.
It's time to put away the pumpkins and turkeys and bring out the colored lights and decorations for the next set of holidays. Hard to imagine, when it's almost 60 degrees outside.