Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I have nothing but happy memories, which makes me lucky, I know. My mother always made a festive dinner and gathered as many relatives and friends as she could. The tables were set with special dishes and polished silver on a heavy white damask tablecloth with matching napkins, all perfectly ironed. The house smelled delicious, and everything was just so. My father sat in his ladderback armchair at the head of the table, making sure everyone was comfortable, well-fed, and very much welcomed. I never remember arguments or hurt feelings. As I said, I was very lucky.
My Vineyard Thanksgivings have been wonderful, too. Lots of family, special holiday recipes, dinner table discussions on myriad subjects. Early on, we had Thanksgiving at Mike’s Aunt Janice’s house, just up a path through the woods. Dinner was always in the evening, so everyone had the day to walk on the beach, roast the turkey, or visit with usually-off-Island cousins.
I took over after a few years, often adding friends into the family mix. We had tables everywhere, our small house full with laughter and warmth. We finally added our dining room, designed to replicate remembered gatherings at the Hull grandparents’ house in Woodbury. Our long dining table was theirs, and Mike’s dad, Richard, proudly presided at its head. Now we gather at two tables in Hannah’s house, the Joshua Slocum House the Hulls bought in the early 1940s.
The paths are all grown in now, the family houses between ours and the Slocum house have been sold. There are fewer of us around the table now, all older than we were. The children are grown, living off-Island lives. Along with treasured, happy memories, I miss everything being the way it was, the loss of people I have loved, family members and so many friends over the years, so much of the Island changed. I miss holidays being carefree, as they were before COVID. Losses, though accepted as part of life, are still losses. I try to focus on gratitude for those times and loved ones, for those remaining, for new babies and new friends.
I write about this knowing that these feelings are not uncommon. Holidays can be a jumble of happy and hard, and one never knows which to expect. A friend sent me the poem, “my brain and heart divorced,” by John Roedel. It helped.
I promised to print my corn pudding recipe, as I always do just before Thanksgiving. The amounts for the ingredients are for a double recipe, like for a potluck or large gathering, so adjust as necessary.
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
2 cans sweet corn, drained
2 cans creamed corn
2 cups sour cream
2 9-ounce packages Jiffy corn muffin mix
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix everything together in no particular order and pour into a lightly-buttered, shallow baking pan or casserole dish.
Bake for about an hour until the center is set.
This recipe was always a hit at our town holiday party. There hasn’t been a town party since COVID and there won’t be one this year, but I am planning to bring it to the potluck at the Ag Hall on Dec. 4, next Saturday, when we will gather to celebrate the lives of Kent and Maureen Healy. Come between noon and 4 pm with your best potluck dish and your best stories about Kent and Maureen to share.
Kate Warner and fellow members of the Energy Committee will present a Zoom program at the West Tisbury library on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2:30 to 3:30 pm, to report on their 5-year plan to address the goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. Some committee members are well on their way and will share their experiences and insights.
Other library programs include an in-person jazz concert with Jeremy Berlin and Shelagh Hackett on Saturday, Nov. 27, at 3 pm; a series of online website design classes by Heather Skybrook that begins Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 3 pm; and a talk by Tom Dresser about his new book “Martha’s Vineyard in the American Revolution” on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 4:30 pm. Email the library at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for these events.
Weekend activities include the Farmers Market and Artisans Fair at the Ag Hall, Island-Made Holidays at Heather Gardens, Merry Farm Pottery online and in person, Featherstone’s Holiday Gift Show, a walk-around at Island Folk Pottery. I’m sure I have forgotten many others.
Thanksgiving over, our thoughts turn to the next holidays, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the New Year 2022. It always feels like a rush to me, too much to do in too little time. Take a breath.