From the Vineyard Gazette edition of Dec. 17, 1948:
A matter of a few hours may well alter the overall picture of the Island Christmas, but as this article is written the temperature is in the fifties, the sky is clear and blue, the sun shines brightly, the grass is still green, and flowers are still blooming in many, many gardens. Nature has not done its part yet in awakening the traditional Christmas spirit, which traditionally requires a biting atmosphere and a powdering of snow.
But man has done much to make the Vineyard gay and bright, to bring home to all the fact that this is indeed Christmas and that whatever the state of the world may be, or however threatening the news, this is the glad season of the year and that now, of all times, humanity should rejoice.
Looking back over close to a quarter-century of canvassing and actually inspecting the places of business on the Vineyard, the change apparent is little short of bewildering. There are many more places of business today than there were twenty-five years ago. These places are larger, and far, far more elaborate. Also, it is easily remembered when a few streamers of colored crepe paper, and perhaps a dusting of artificial snow on the display of Christmas goods, constituted the entire description of Christmas decoration, as preparations for the holiday season were made.
The trend toward bigger and brighter Christmas displays began before the war. The war itself seriously interrupted this trend, and perhaps, in another environment, the interruption might have been prolonged. But here, on the Vineyard, it has seemed as if business proprietors as a whole have attempted to make up for the gap caused by the war and to even surpass their former ideas of dressing up their establishments for Christmas.
In other days, when there were fewer establishments, it was customary to carry a list of store names, together with a description of their window displays. It is no longer fair or practical to attempt this. There are too many, and competition among merchants in the matter is too keen.
The first thing that would impress a returning Islander who has not seen the place for many years, is the fact that there are hundreds of articles of merchandise on display today that would not have been obtainable in Island stores a comparatively few years ago. Truly the Island merchants have tried, and with great success, to bring the shopping advantages of the largest cities to the Vineyard. There is little, if anything, that anyone might ask for which is not at once obtainable in the stores of Martha’s Vineyard.
Such is the demonstration of the Christmas window display and interior decorations of all principal places of business. The list of merchandise includes everything of a practical nature, everything in the way of sporting goods, everything in the list of modern toys, everything electrical, the latest books, the latest fashions, and the entire basement-to-attic brilliance and attraction of the city department store.
It is not untimely to mention the fact that this year, for the first time on record probably, the services of a professional window-dresser have been secured by some of the Island stores. This service also includes the lettering and decorating of price signs, which is no minor feature. It is likewise no exaggeration to say that the Island bill for decorations alone will run into a large sum, with truckloads of artificial greens or natural shrubs, steamers, lights, music and carefully arranged window decorations in which the merchandise is secondary to the Christmas setting in which it is placed.
Truly gay, brilliantly attractive, beneath the Christmas lights now accepted as the towns’ contribution to the Christmas display, and the chimes which in some of the towns ring out upon the evening air from the amplifiers. Not like the older days, indeed no, yet clashing not at all with the ordered simplicity of Island life, so smoothly and pleasantly have the changes come.
The Christmas spirit, too, is high and hopeful as the holiday approaches. Despite the tradition that snow makes Christmas customers, a hasty canvas of most business places has elicited the reply that business is good. Everything indicates that this is true, and there are various reasons why this should be true.
Thus it may be said, in all truthfulness, that the Vineyard Christmas is shaping up as a merry one. A gay, prosperous, hopeful, glad and beautiful holiday season. And largely made so because of the efforts of merchants who possess vision and appreciation of that psychology which makes gaiety contagious and which promotes that good will toward all men which has been traditional of Christmas since the first one dawned.
Compiled by Hilary Wall