Oak Bluffs: Rich in the things that matter

Seaside for the holidays. — Joanne Lambert

Tidings of comfort and joy to all!

I love the hush that falls over the Island on Christmas Day. All the business of work and school and shopping just stops for a day. It is our tradition to take a Christmas walk on a favorite beach or trail, where we usually see others doing the same, exchange greetings, and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us.

I grew up in a large extended Irish family. Christmas Eve brought the entire clan together in my grandparents’ tiny house, which somehow seemed much larger on that night. Santa Claus came, not down the chimney, but up from the basement where my grandpa and uncles gathered at the bar. Santa’s nose glowed, not from the cold air outside, but from the libations in the basement. All 18 of us cousins truly believed that it was Santa, not Uncle Bill, and we each received gifts from his giant bag. There was music and singing and eating and drinking and kids running around high on soda and candy. It would all wind down around 11 pm when my grandfather would announce that he and my grandmother “best get to bed, so these people can go home.” On the way home, my brothers and I always watched the sky, and often saw what we were sure was a sleigh.

In the morning, we found more gifts under the tinsel-laden tree, plus stockings stuffed with candy, socks, and mittens. Then we went to church, and then we usually had time to play out in the snow with our friends and our new toys before Christmas dinner with more family. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized that nobody in my working-class family had much money. We certainly seemed rich at Christmas! Another thing I realized as an adult is that we actually were rich in the things that matter.

Kwanzaa celebrations begin on Dec. 26. This seven-day festival celebrates the culture and traditions of people of African heritage. Each day of Kwanzaa (which was named from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits”) honors one of seven principles for living: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. These principles are honored by candle-lighting, colorful clothing, music, dance, special food, and reflection, culminating in a last-day feast and gift-giving. Joyous Kwanzaa!

The Oak Bluffs library invites everyone to celebrate December, with special programs over Christmas break for children and adults. Young ones can join a scavenger hunt throughout the library for “Frozen” film characters. Teens can hang out, play games, and enjoy snacks on Fridays from 3 to 4 pm. Adults can enjoy early morning Wednesdays with coffee at 8 am, and the virtual book club meets on Dec. 30 at 7 pm (see the Zoom link at oakbluffslibrary.org). Note: the library will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25.

If you need some exercise after holiday indulging, the Oak Bluffs Senior Center offers great classes via Zoom (in the comfort of your living room, no mirrors!). On Fridays at 9 am, exercise with Floyd Lifton, or join Bill White on Thursdays at 9 am. Try Yoga with Martha Abbott on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 am. For more information and Zoom links, go to the Council on Aging page on the Oak Bluffs town website, oakbluffsma.gov, and click on the December 2021 newsletter.

Of course, our fabulous YMCA offers exercise classes for members, for all ages and abilities. Check out their website at ymcamv.org to find the right fit for you.

Happy Birthday wishes to Muriel O’Rourke on Dec. 27, Sonya Lima on the 28th, and George Davis on the 29th. The youngest member of the Anderson clan, Miss Anderson Elizabeth Farrissey, will celebrate her first birthday on the 29th.

Have a safe and happy holiday, and send me your news!