Oak Bluffs: Holiday movies, Kwanzaa, and Gatchell light display

—MV Times

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” –Zuzu Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Our little Island, with its small towns and big community, is enduring some serious heartbreak this year. Too many of our angels have gained their wings, and left us struggling with sadness and grief. The holidays seem to magnify all emotions, and can be filled with joy one year and utterly painful the next. Whatever your experience is this holiday season, I hope you find some beauty in every day, and peaceful moments to comfort your heart.

Do you love or hate holiday movies? I grew up watching (and loving) the old ones, including “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the original cartoon), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Holiday movies in the ’70s were mostly cartoons or stop-action, like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (which featured the voices of Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney). One standout from 1970 was “Scrooge,” with Albert Finney’s stellar performance as the “bah humbug” guy. In the ’80s we had a few movies that became instant classics, like “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Two of my favorites from the ’90s are “Home Alone” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” Jim Carrey brought the Grinch to life in 2000, showing us the human side to the green grouch. Another hit from the 2000’s was “Elf.” These are movies that you can watch again and again.

The movies that last seem to touch a universal chord about the humanity of the holidays — the ups and downs, the joys and the struggles that everyone experiences.

Winter officially and astronomically begins in the Northern Hemisphere on Dec. 21, also known as the winter solstice. It is the shortest day of the year — which brings the good news that the days then start to get longer.

Our December full moon is called the Cold Moon, a rather obvious designation. Other obvious names for it are Long Nights Moon and Moon Before Yule. It rises on Tuesday, Dec. 26, though it will be beautiful on Christmas night also — and the weather looks good for viewing, so be sure to get outside and enjoy.

There will be a celebration of the life of Ed Medeiros on Thursday, Dec. 28, from 4 to 7 pm, at his favorite place to play music with ESP. All are welcome to come together to remember and honor Ed.

The library will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 26, to celebrate Christmas. They will have regular programming the rest of the week, so head over for some fun during the school break.

Kwanzaa begins Dec. 26, and will be celebrated through Jan. 1. This annual celebration of African-American culture is based on harvest festival traditions from West and Southeast Africa. The celebrations include lighting candles, wearing festive clothing, and feasts of traditional foods. Happy Kwanzaa to all!

Renee Nolan of Nashawena Park just finished a cross-country road trip. She and Stephen Grace are now ensconced in their winter abode in Palm Springs, Calif. She tells me the temps are in the high 70s out there. I tell her thanks for the information! Renee’s sister, Muriel O’Rourke, had a lovely Thanksgiving on the island of St. Maarten with Vineyard friends Billie Hancock and her daughter, Buffy Knight Carroll. Muriel will be celebrating her birthday on Dec. 27, after Christmas festivities with her family off-Island.

One more thank-you to the Gatchell family on County Road for once again outdoing themselves with a fabulous, magical Christmas display for us all to enjoy. The lights will be on from 5 to 8 pm through Dec. 31, so be sure to take the time to take it in. You can also drop off food items or a cash donation for the Food Pantry in the box.

Ocean Park will also be glowing with lights through Dec. 31.

Winter Solstice birthdays include Bill Jones, Emma Conley, Stacy Wise, and Frank Zappa. Happy birthday to Jennifer Underwood Thomas on Dec. 22! Taylor Rasmussen will celebrate with his inimitable style on the 22nd. He shares that date with another Island celebrity, Diane Sawyer. Bonnie Ward Pierce celebrates on the 24th. Muriel O’Rourke celebrates on the 27th, a date she shares with Louis Pasteur.

Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone! Send me your news!

If you have any Oak Bluffs Town Column suggestions, email Joanne Lambert, joannelamber@gmail.com.