Town Column : West Tisbury
For all of us wishing for a white Christmas we have gotten our wish in abundance. The first spits of snow began falling as I drove home from Chilmark Saturday night. Sunday morning we awoke to find our house enclosed in wet snow blown across our windows, obscuring the views except for a soft blue light beyond. Murphy sunk up to his shoulders as he stepped off the porch. Talley pranced past him; she loves the snow. They both came in white instead of golden.
Snow fell all day Sunday. There were no newspapers. Wind blew and everyone shoveled or plowed or waited for someone else to do it. Some plans were cancelled while others proceeded as planned. Katherine Long and Tom Vogl's Solstice Party was well attended and quite festive. Two granddaughters, Jennifer and Irene Yee, were with Tom and Katherine for the weekend and the party. Katherine commented that they were both excellent and willing snow shovelers, helping make paths out to the chicken yards and shoveling three-foot drifts to get the gates opened. In their other lives, Jennifer is an astronomer and Irene a recent graduate from Emerson where she majored in theater arts.
I was happy to see the first skaters on Whiting's Pond Saturday morning. Later when I was having lunch at State Road, a group of them appeared. Excited children, Harper and Hoffie Hearn, and Silas and Axel Abrams, were warming up with cups of hot chocolate. They are all cousins and were accompanied by their moms, sisters Signe and Jessica Benjamin. Everyone had bright red cheeks and hearty appetites from the morning's sport.
Schools will close at 12 noon on Wednesday. The library will be closing Thursday, Dec. 24, at 3 pm, and will remain closed Friday and Saturday. It will reopen Sunday at 1 pm. Sunday afternoon at 3, there will be a reception and talk by artist Al Hurwitz. His exhibition, King Kong: Variations and Capriccios, will be on display through the month of January.
There will be two special Christmas Eve services. The Annual Christmas Eve Pageant will take place at 5 pm at the Ag Hall. The children's choir will perform at the pageant. At 10 pm there will be a candlelight service at the West Tisbury Church. Led by the Rev. Cathlin Baker, the service will include lots of carols sung by the choir. Both are always especially beautiful celebrations of the holiday.
Mike and I have both had colds, so I am feeling way behind in my usual preparations for our family's Christmas Eve. Our tree, cut down Saturday before the snow amid a lot of jawing and joshing by my husband, Danny Whiting, and Norman Lobb, is still out in our yard, an undistinguishable white mound against one side of our red shed. Despite my best intentions, I still haven't baked a cookie yet. Actually, I did begin on time, baking one batch of chocolate-studded almond crescents that were so good Mike and I ate every one. (Always pack them in a tin as soon as they are cool enough, to prevent uncontrolled sampling.)
Somehow it always gets done, though. I expect this year will be no exception. By 6 pm on Christmas Eve when everyone begins to arrive, the tree will be decorated, the presents wrapped, the dinner prepared, the table set for 16 of us. Candles will sparkle.
My Christmas village and all the little houses, animals, and figures I have collected over the years, will be set up in their places on our windowsills with greens tucked in and fake snow across the top. Lisa Strachan's porcelain snowflakes will be pinned in the window above my kitchen sink. Black and gold musicians will be holding up their music, arranged around curled wooden trees, carolers for Christmas Eve. My newest acquisition, and the most treasured, is the wooden Christmas village made by Mike's Uncle Dick. It had always been part of Mike's parents' decorations, much admired, and given to us by Bobby and Richard. We also have a 1950s bottlebrush tree with pink and gold decorations and a wonderful Bakelite sleigh with Santa and reindeer that used to be on the bay windowsill in their dining room. Now it sits in ours. And the feather tree, painstakingly made by my brother Andy, like the one I love at his house.
Years of ornaments and trinkets, every one has a story to go with it. That's what Christmas means to me - all the happy memories that come out of boxes every year, as new ones are made. I love the anticipation and excitement, planning presents to please the people you love, making the holiday special.
Merry Christmas, one and all.