When I was a kid, my grandmother didn’t take her Christmas tree down until the Feast of the Epiphany on Thursday, Jan. 6. I remember mimicking her tradition in my own adult life, and I also remember not quite knowing what it symbolized. One of those sort of mindless, rather than mindful, things we do because we’ve always done them.
I’ve searched the internet and came to the conclusion that Epiphany refers to the Three Kings’ (the non-Jewish Magi) revelation when they found the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph by following that star early after Jesus’ birth. It has basically been considered the “revelation to the gentiles.” I don’t think I have the time nor the space to get into all the directives involved with this information. Also, I didn’t realize that the time between Dec. 25 and Jan. 6 is referred to as the Twelve Days of Christmas. I think I must’ve thought of the song, not the significance. Oh, what you can learn from a Google search.
I was happy to read that the feast is a good occasion to center around family, as in the Holy Family. To celebrate, you can bake a sweet “kings cake” for the kids that has a hidden treasure inside, or you can just make sure to focus on family during that time.
I used to get advent calendars for my own children before Christmas, and I can remember St. Nicholas filling our shoes with treats on Dec. 6 when I was growing up. It was fun to blend the joy of childhood with events connected to church. It made me think church could be kind of fun after all.
The liturgical calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, is marked by days of celebration — some solemn and some joyful. All those days together make up a cycle that ebbs and flows; the liturgical calendar even features “ordinary time,” all those days in-between the special celebrations.
My advent calendar days are over for now and I haven’t given St. Nicholas Day a thought in a long time. The thing about the Christmas season though, is that it brings us all back to our childhoods in one way or another. The wonder of the decorated tree and the sparkling lights, favorite foods on the holiday menu, and most of all gathering with family members we may not see very often. All those things brought me joy when I was younger, and now the older I get, the more joy I find in them again. I’m glad we can find ways to expand the holiday season into a longer period of time. I think next year, we’re leaving the tree up until Christmastide is completely over.
I decided to touch base with our places of worship to see how the Community Suppers are coming along. Not surprisingly, some folks are dealing with a work in progress, while others have their schedule and their arrangements all set. As I get more information, we can add to this list.
The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury is starting weekly Community Suppers on Wednesdays beginning Jan. 12 through April 27. Suppers are by reservation and will be distributed through curbside pickup, with delivery for those unable to drive. Please email WTComSuppers@gmail.com to reserve your meal as far ahead as possible. The church will soon have an easy online signup form on its website, wtcongregationalchurch.org. Folks not comfortable with online options can call the church at 508-693-2842. First Congregational is also looking to add to their winter volunteer team with weekly openings for food prep, packing, small tasks, and deliveries. Join them at bit.ly/fccwtcomsup.
At Grace Episcopal Church, volunteers run the show with curbside pick-up of Community Suppers scheduled on Fridays from 5 to 5:30 pm. They ask that you reserve your meal by signing up on their app, which you can find on their website, graceepiscopalmv.org, or by phoning the church at 508-693-0332 by Thursday afternoon. If you’d like to volunteer to help with the Community Suppers, call 508-523-1373.
The United Methodist Church in the Campground continues its collaboration with Oak Bluffs chefs. This coming Community Supper happening on Saturday, Jan. 8, will be prepared by Ocean View restaurant and ready for pick-up curbside from 1 to 2 pm. Barbara Spain from the UMC says that they prepare about 125 meals to distribute, and they offer the Community Suppers every other Saturday until the end of March. “Make a reservation by calling the parish house number (508-693-4424) and leave a message with your name, phone number, and the number of meals you’d like to have,” Barbara says. And to help move the process along, you can put your last name and the number of meals on a piece of paper on your car’s windshield or dashboard and someone will load your dinner for you. It’s best to call no later than Friday at 7 pm, she says. They do have a cutoff on those 125 dinners, but if you call too late, you still might be able to come by a little after 2 pm and check to see if there are leftovers. And, if you’d like to help out at the Community Suppers, email Barbara at email@example.com.
Good Shepherd Parish will serve take-out suppers on Thursdays, Jan. 6 through April 7.
Call 508-684-6270 by 6 pm on Monday to hear the menu and record your request. Pick-up is from 5 to 5:30 pm at St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven. Good Shepherd offers these suppers with the help and collaboration of the Hebrew Center.
And I promise to keep adding to this list as I get more information. Keeping these suppers alive is a great thing, no matter how they’re served up.