My favorite food during this Thanksgiving season surprisingly is not roasted turkey but rather cranberry sauce of jelly. Yes yams, oyster stuffing, especially if it is made by Jane Edmonds, greens or kale, smothered steak, soups and salads, rolls made from scratch and delicious sweets are all part of my cornucopia of enjoyable palate delights. But I am partial to the cranberry because it is both symbolic and substantive for me.

History tells us that the Wampanoag native Americans across southeastern Massachusetts have enjoyed the annual harvest of the “sasumuneash” for over 12,000 years. The berries have been used for a variety of uses in ancient times including grits and “pemmican” which is a mix of berries, dried meat and animal fat that when combined can provide food over the long winter months. In its present form the sharp taste of the berry provides a bit of a contrast that warms the palate and announces all of the other food of the holiday.

Thanksgiving Day is a national tradition of family gatherings to express collective gratitude for life and all of its blessings. The cottage of Ronald and Charlene Carroll is one home where all around the table share what they are grateful for. This year about 16 people ranging from four to 70 poured out their hearts about new jobs, college grades, the glory of retirement, and appreciation for being able to enjoy the holiday on the Vineyard.

The Carroll family have deep roots on the Island. Ronald’s great uncle was legendary attorney William Henry Lewis of Boston that came to Shearer Cottage in the early 20th Century. He was a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School. He served as a football coach at Harvard for 12 years prior to being appointed as the first African American Assistant United States Attorney. In 1910 he was sent to Washington, DC as one just five United States Assistant Attorneys General. Lewis was one of several allies of the powerful Booker T. Washington that benefited from the national influence held by Washington. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Roland Hayes and Harry Burleigh were among those that joined Lewis at the dinner table at Shearer that praised Washington.

This holiday can also be a time of reflection and melancholy as the recent loss of a loved one is omnipresent. Mrs. Frances Redd, the 95-year-old matriarch of her family, passed last month and those at the cottage of Frank and Sharon Redd kept her memory alive. Delicious food, libations and fond memories were sprinkled throughout the entire weekend. Saturday morning featured gourmet waffles and bacon prepared by her grandsons Russell and Jonevan Hornsby. Her daughters, Eva Hornsby and Kathy Taylor commented on the rolling video cataloging her magnificent life as others made holiday wreaths for their front doors. A grand celebration for all.

About 50 people took time from their weekend family gatherings to join the family of Anne Jennings to participate in the unveiling of her “marker” on the Martha’s Vineyard African American History Trail on Highland avenue in East Chop. She was the first African American nurse to work at the Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. Her caring and nurturing of people extended outside of the hospital as her family observed that their mother and grandmother would feed, provide clothes and shelter for all that needed help. A wonderful legacy. Those present adjourned to The Barn for a post recognition reception.

Nate Luce of the Oak Bluffs Library reports that the Library Friends Holiday Open House is on Dec. 2 from noon to 2 p.m.

If you missed the poetry reading of Jennifer Smith Turner at the Poetry Cafe in November you will not want to miss the next program on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. hosted by journalist and self proclaimed “washashore” Arnie Reisman. Readings by Ema Young, Dan Waters, Chris Legge and Holly St. John Bergon are all part of the program. Choice words are promised to be followed by choice desserts.

Thelma Johnson, President of the Martha’s Vineyard Branch of the Association for the Study of American Life and History has posted her year-end update sharing among other things that she attended the 102nd Annual Meeting this fall in Cincinnati where the branch received the Outstanding Branch Award. Congrats to all.

East Chop resident, Dawn Davis, publisher of 37INK at Simon and Schuster, has proudly announced that one of her books, Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, was nominated for a National Book Award in the nonfiction category. Congrats to her and author Erica Armstrong Dunbar.

Farewell to young Jack E. Robinson, 3rd who passed on Nov. 20. He was a brilliant entrepreneur who enjoyed politics and business. He spent many summer days on the Vineyard with his late father Jack, Jr. and step mother Claudette, owners of the Martha’s Vineyard Racquet and Resort on New York avenue.

Paradise on earth is the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!