Aquinnah: Holiday preparations, reusable gift wrap, and Wishing Tree

—MV Times

Although this is a dampened holiday for sure, we are nonetheless preparing for the pending arrival of all our immediate family. Son Alex and his wife Madalena are arriving with their three little ones (the youngest we will meet for the first time) from Switzerland. Daughter Laurie and her husband Anil are arriving from San Francisco with their two big boys. Putting them together with Noli and Isaac and Emmett and Tillie, we total 15 humans. That’s a lot of groceries, a lot of beds, and a lot of energy.

For many reasons, the gifts from Charley and myself will be simple. Each child will receive a pair of pajamas that match those we are giving to the others. Each child will also receive a carefully selected book. Although we are doing a Secret Santa exchange so that each grownup is only supposed to get one gift, I have indulged myself, and purchased a carefully selected book for every adult as well.

My tiny house is a mess. The dining room table is in the center of our living space. It is covered with unwrapped gifts and the things I need to wrap them in. Every year I carefully gather up ribbon and reusable gift wrap and tissue paper from the mountain of gifts that my grandchildren receive from others, thinking that I will reuse the stuff the following year. That’s the plan, and that’s what I’m doing, but I must admit that the satisfaction of knowing that I’m not adding to the trash littering our earth is not proving to be sufficient to dampen completely the desire for shiny gift wraps and perky ribbons. I also look for colorful newspaper pages, and save the comics pages so I can use them as wrap as well. The reuse of newspaper works OK, but finding pages that do not have dreadful news on them isn’t easy, as I’m determined to keep the gifts wrapped in joy somehow, but I do find enough. So I tape on the used paper, and tie things up with as perky a bow as I can, and that will have to do.

Meanwhile, I am preparing to bake cookies and breads to give to friends and neighbors. Put together with the grocery shopping and bedmaking means that scrubbing our house will have to wait until the last minute. Look for me the night before our kids arrive, cleaning away. And, God willing, look for a happy and love-filled me the day after they leave, smiling contentedly at the newly messy house.

On Dec. 26, Naushon Vanderhoop celebrates a birthday. On Dec. 27, it is Miles Vanderhoop’s turn to celebrate. On Dec. 20, it is my sister Karla’s birthday. On Dec. 27, it is my sister Julie’s birthday. The proximity to the holidays meant that both sisters had to suffer the fact that they often received one greeting for both the holiday and their birthday from well-meaning friends and second-tier family. It is my hope for Naushon and Miles that people honor their birth as the independent source of joy it should be.

Every year Pam Glavin puts up a Wishing Tree on Carl Widdis’ grave at the Aquinnah cemetery. She lovingly puts lights on the tree so that it will glow hopefully for those who visit it. She asks that you bring something to put on the tree if you’d like, and then make a wish for something that will help those in need. She believes that Carl’s magic just might help. Thank you for this tree, Pam, it’s a great way to honor Carl, and to make a gift to the community at the same time. This year I’m going up there, heart in hand, to wish for peace for all who live on this planet.

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