West Tisbury: Holiday traditions

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— Kyra Steck

This Thanksgiving will be different. Forgive me for stating the obvious.

Mike and I will be eating dinner alone for the first time in I don’t know how many years, since the time we both had the flu and our Thanksgiving dinner was canned soup. Nothing like that this year. I plan to make a Thanksgiving dinner with a small turkey and the traditional side dishes, with pie and whipped cream for dessert. We will eat at our dining room table, prettily set with a cloth and napkins, the Thanksgiving plates I bought years ago, a centerpiece of flowers and colored leaves. I will even dress up a little.

My recipes are all old, treasured because of the people they came from, and from years of repetition. Parsnips-sausage stuffing came from Donal Casey, a dear friend when I lived in Connecticut. Cranberry sauce came from Norma Salop, who I met here in my early days on the Vineyard. I make my turkey the way my mother did, served on a platter that Norma gave me. The following day I will make soup and turkey tetrazzini for the freezer. Apple and pumpkin pies carry with them memories of making them the night before Thanksgiving with our nephew, Joshua. As a little boy, he promised to always come home to make pies with me, and although that promise has proved impractical once he became an adult, he is always in my heart as I peel apples and mix pumpkin puree with spices.

Before dinner, our family has planned to meet for drinks on Zoom at 6 o’clock. At least we will be able to see each other. It feels funny that some of us are close by in town, yet we will be on a computer screen. Less so for our niece, Charlotte, in California with her partner, Brian, and their cat, the remarkable Mila. Dan and Xiaoshi Hull will join us from Somerville, and we hope to see their daughter, Sunday, too. Despite being on the computer, it will be nice to sit together without masks, without worrying that someone might be sick or get sick by our gathering.

We all have so much to be thankful for. That’s what makes Thanksgiving my favorite holiday, that it is an occasion to be grateful. We are all healthy. We are all loved and able to love. We all have food to eat and shelter that is warm and safe. We all have work that is meaningful and helps others. For some of us, we live in West Tisbury on this special Island. We have most of our family and our friends around us.

On the windowsill next to where I am writing, there is a small glass holding the last bouquet of this summer’s nasturtiums, my favorite flowers. The flowers are bright orange and the leaves are marbled green and cream. They are from Stephanie DaRosa’s garden, where they made admirably large, blooming mounds of color. They were delivered to me by my beloved Iyla, who knows how much I love them and her. Mike and I had a nice, masked, and distant visit with Iyla and her dad, James Bohan.

This Thanksgiving will be different. I will try to make it special in its own, new way. I wish you the same.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.