West Tisbury: Town Holiday Party, and West Tisbury Church Christmas Faire

—MV Times

This afternoon, as Mike and I walked through our woods looking for a good Christmas tree, I was delighted to find several beeches. There are three or four good-size ones, and more coming along, from tiny whips to little trees a couple of feet high. Oaks still predominate, but I’m thrilled to know that someday there will be bright spots of golden yellow. Blue Cullen’s woods in Chilmark are the sine qua non of that effect; her beech trees glow brighter than Christmas lights on a sunny fall afternoon.

We found a tree that Mike will cut down and bring inside just before Christmas. We discovered several little hollies, and a big stand of winterberries, on our walk. The hemlocks and white pines I planted when we were first married are beautiful, sweeping the ground, and almost 30 feet tall. They were bare-root, not even a foot tall. I can’t believe that I have lived here long enough to have watched their growth through so many seasons. 

Wishes for a belated happy birthday go to Kate and Hap Bernard’s twins, Mark and Maggie, who turned 18 last week. Hope you had a wonderful day.

Don’t forget our Town Holiday Party at the Ag Hall tonight, from 5 to 7. It’s a potluck, an occasion to get a little dressed up and see your friends. 

The West Tisbury Church Christmas Faire is this Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9:30 to 2:30, with wreaths, greens, and decorations for sale, and a silent auction.

Martha’s Vineyard Democrats are meeting on Zoom this Saturday morning at 9:30. On the agenda are Zoom visits from Rep. Bill Keating, and from Donald Rose, who is running for a seat on the Tisbury select board, followed by a discussion of possibilities for the organization’s future. For information: democratsmv@gmail.com

There will be two artist receptions at the library. Kanta Lipsky, who is showing her paintings in the Community Room, will be feted this afternoon, Thursday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 5:30. On Sunday afternoon, come to see Cody Jephcote’s new work in the upper and lower display areas. He will be there between noon and 2 to talk about his artwork. If you are already there, stay for the jazz concert with Jeremy Berlin, Eric Johnson, and Tauras Biskis, which begins at 2:30. 

The library’s annual Holiday Party is Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2 to 4 pm. It will be, as always, a gathering to celebrate the season with friends and fellow readers. There will be delicious food and punch, lots of greenery, and plenty of good cheer. 

Last Friday I attended a daylong Zoom conference at the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living. I have written before about Teepa Snow, the presenter. She is a knowledgeable teacher and advocate for families and caregivers of folks living with the various dementias. 

What I most admire about Ms. Snow is her devotion to supporting the best life for all involved. She admits that it’s not easy. As different areas of the brain are affected, a person’s capabilities change. How to communicate if you have trouble understanding language? Or finding the right words? Maybe getting dressed is confusing when there are so many pieces of clothing to put on and you are trying to remember if your shirt goes on before your bra, or after? As vision becomes monocular, you don’t see spots on your clothing, something placed on a table, or someone coming into the room off to your side. You may no longer be able to regulate your body temperature, so why is someone telling you you don’t need to be wearing three sweaters?

That said, there are some skills caregivers can practice that may help prevent or de-escalate situations that do come up. Most important, they preserve some autonomy for your loved one, and may help him or her be able to accomplish a task with a minimum of frustration for both of you. If all else fails, take a deep breath and step away for a minute or two, then try again.

So many of us on the Vineyard live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This program was sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Family Support Center on the Cape, one of several organizations that give educational and respite support. Teepa Snow has written several books and has videos on YouTube that you can watch. It really helps to learn as much as you can.

Your loved one is still the same person, with the same interests, likes, and dislikes. They still need the relationships and experiences that sustained them before their diagnosis. They are still adults, deserving of dignity and respect. And fun. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.