Chilmark: And now back to being thankful

Giving thanks for autumn light. — Valerie Sonnenthal

Thanksgiving, the concept of a shared meal of gratitude, was a holiday potluck food orgy with 25 people crammed into a 450-square-foot West Side apartment when I was in my twenties. My extended family consisted of my mother and older brother who always came along.

Though I grew up in Manhattan, I’d never been to the Macy’s Day Parade. I was excited the year I scored tickets for bleachers when I was a photo editor at the New York Post. The truth was we were at the end of the line on 34th Street. The parade would crawl around the corner, but it did not feel so much like a parade, since we had to wait for the different acts, bands and performers to strut their stuff and sing their songs to the cameras for everyone watching at home in front of the main avenue entrance. When I was in 11th grade, my best friend lived on West 77th Street. From our 10th floor perch we not only could watch the balloons being blown up, but we could go out when we felt like it and volunteer our help, which was always welcome. When my kids were little and we lived in Rockland County, N.Y., a friend inspired me to make a hotel reservation (a year in advance) overlooking the parade route on Broadway. We did just that and had a bagel brunch for friends. We were eye level with the balloons — maybe the best viewing year. Though one year in my 20’s my mother invited me to go along to a friend’s home on Central Park West on the 7th floor, which was also amazing. It put me in a state of complete wonderment, fixing my gaze out whatever open patch of window I could find, and being almost eye level but still seeing people on the floats.

And now back to being thankful. Just try to be there for a day and see how it affects you. We can compare notes later. Everyone should have the right to feel the celebration of sunrise, have clean water, clean soil, and a basic life worth living.

If you want to make seven Menemsha Coast Guard crew members happy, donate Thanksgiving dishes, soft drinks, snacks or desserts; bring them by the Menemsha station house between 4 and 5 pm on Wednesday or Thursday and ring the bell/knock on the front door. Follow our local Coast Guard news at

The Aquinnah Cultural Center and Northeast Indigenous Artist Alliance created the Northeast Indigenous Artists Holiday Market on Facebook from Nov. 27 through Dec. 11. Shop virtually at

Please know the winter shelter is open Nov. 28 through March 31. Overnight with dinner and breakfast, open 6 pm (no admission after 7pm) to 8 am. All are in Edgartown, Sunday and Monday: Federated Church Parish Hall, 45 S. Summer St.; Tuesday: Old Whaling Church, 89 Main St.; Wednesday through Saturday: St. Andrew’s Parish House, 51 Winter St. Day warming and lunch from 11 am to 1:30 pm are open Nov. 17 through March 31. Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Good Shepherd Parish Hall, 55 Church St., Oak Bluffs. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: Grace Church, 34 Woodlawn Ave., Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 774-563-3687.

Have a good holiday and a good week.


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