I just read the best quote on Nicole Cabot’s Facebook page. It’s from a story about her daughter Reed’s preschool class at First Light Child Development Center which has grown potatoes to donate for Thanksgiving dinners through the Family to Family Program. Their teacher Elizabeth Bonifacio said, “When we donate we tell them we are giving to friends we don’t know yet.” It seems like the perfect way to begin a column for Thanksgiving.
Everyone I know is bustling around, planning for holiday meals and holiday guests. The Winter Farmers’ Market and all the farm stands are filled with an abundance of possibilities. We are lucky to still have the most gorgeous, healthy, organic, locally grown food available to us.
Before I go on, I acknowledge that the holiday season can be difficult for many of us. There are memories that can be happy or sad, of loved ones no longer with us, of the stresses of too much to do in too little time or with too little money. Surely more than I have mentioned. I suppose as we get older, the holidays become a mixed blessing. Having said that, everyone I saw and spoke with this past week seemed to be excited and making plans.
Suzanne and Rich Hammond are looking forward to having three of their kids home from Boston and Amherst. Suzanne described herself as “giddy,” and we laughed about how excited she was anticipating their arrival. I know their dinner will be wonderful. Suzanne is a great cook, famous for having shared her corn pudding recipe that I am asked to reprint every year in this column. It’s easily doubled for potlucks. Here it is:
2 eggs, beaten
1 16-ounce can cream style corn
1 16-ounce can corn kernels, drained
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1 9-ounce box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix everything together and turn into a baking dish. Bake uncovered 35-40 minutes till set in the center.
Rosalie Powell is doing the honors this Thanksgiving for her family. Dan and Shannon Larsen will be there with their daughters, Natalie and Isabella. The girls have already helped their great-grandmother decorate the table and the house; Rosalie said they did a beautiful job. Ted and Sue Powell will come from Canton, and an assortment of Island friends will join them around the table. Rosalie said everyone brings part of the meal, incorporating new traditions and new foods into the family’s holiday.
I have read about the iconic “turducken,” a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken, but have never met anyone who has done it. It is the centerpiece of Greg and Tam Blaine’s holiday table. Tam began it, then taught Greg how to debone the fowl, and artistically arrange one inside the next. Their Thanksgiving begins early, as everything needs to be prepared and brined for three days before roasting it Thanksgiving morning. Then a crowd of friends arrives for the meal, which reminds Greg of his childhood Thanksgivings, when his grandparents’ house had so many people that the kids had their own table set in the kitchen.
Nelson Bryant and Ruth Kirchmeier are expecting Ruth’s sisters Susie and Eva and their families, her son Eli and his fiancee Natalie from Colorado, and Jeffrey and Sam Bryant from next door. Thanksgiving has become a family tradition of meals at different houses throughout the week the family congregates on the Island.
Sandy Moore has been here visiting with his siblings Ben, Gay, and Martha. He has to head back home to Providence before Thanksgiving to help his wife, Mary, decorate for Christmas at her store, Simple Pleasures.
The Vadasz/Cabot family Thanksgiving will be extra special this year, as friends and relatives arrive not only for one meal together, but for a whole weekend of worship and celebration as Violet Cabot’s Bat Mitzvah is this Saturday morning at the Hebrew Center. Linda and Nicole have been cooking and planning for weeks. Violet, of course, has been preparing with Rabbi Broitman for many years. Her birthday is on Sunday, November 30. Much to celebrate together.
During our conversation, Linda Vadasz mentioned the creamed onions and chestnuts she always makes for Thanksgiving that no one else eats but her. It reminded me of Hull family dinners at Mike’s Aunt Janice’s, the creamed onions no one else ate, but that she dutifully prepared.
This is a bittersweet holiday for me, as Janice’s house has been sold and a new family will be moving in. I haven’t met them yet, but look forward to it, and hope they will be happy in their new home. It will be nice to have a young family there making their own traditions and memories. Sad for me, as Janice made Thanksgiving in the early days when Mike and I were newly married. Somehow her tiny dining room table expanded to fit us all as ours did when Mike and I took over that holiday tradition. We both adored Janice and have memories of happy, and interesting, times spent with her. We both miss her.
My best Thanksgiving memory is of the year our niece Charlotte was born on November 26. Her parents stopped by on the way home from the hospital to show her off. She is, of course, grown up and making her way in the world, but Thanksgiving always reminds me of the blessing she is in my life.
Nelia Decker, our Children’s Librarian, has a suggestion for a family activity before or after the big meal. The library has planned a special craft for this Saturday, November 29, between 10:30 am and 3 pm. It’s building fairy houses, and Nelia’s suggestion is that you might spend some time outside in your yard or on a walk looking for material to use. Use your imagination, too, to plan what your fairy house might look like and who might live inside. Have fun.
Don’t forget the library will be closed both Thursday and Friday. It reopens on Saturday morning at 10.
Martha Flanders will teach a workshop called “Heat Embossed Stamping on Velvet” at the library Sunday afternoon, November 30, 2–4 pm. After a demonstration and some practice time, you will make your own embossed velvet bag to take home. There is a $12 charge for materials. Call the library for more information, 508-693-3366.
The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society has planned a Thanksgiving concert Saturday evening, November 29, 7:30 pm, at the Old Whaling Church. Stephanie Chase, Scott Woolweaver, Scott Kluksdahl, and Delores Stevens will perform works by Brahms, Bartok, and Schumann. Tickets are $20, students admitted for free.
There will be an Antiques Sale this weekend at the Grange Hall on Friday and Saturday between 9 am and 3 pm. Twenty vendors will set up their tables with Vineyard memorabilia, vintage jewelry, cottage and primitive furniture, tools, porcelain, and more. There is free parking and no admission charge.
Also on Saturday, November 29, another opportunity to learn about Island history at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Chief Curator Bonnie Stacy will discuss the life, legacy, and inspiration to contemporary artists and poets of West Tisbury’s Nancy Luce, who lived on Tiah’s Cove Road 200 years ago. “Madonna of the Hens” is the name of the museum’s current exhibition. Island poets Ellie Bates, Jill Jupen, Donald Nitchie, and Steve Ewing will speak about how Nancy Luce’s poems inspired them and read from their own work. Admission is free.
I hope everyone will find something to feel grateful for this Thursday. That’s what this holiday is all about.