It may be difficult to separate the Christmas season from the image of the jolly, rosy-cheeked, white-bearded man who drops onto rooftops ‘round the world from his reindeer drawn sleigh to shimmy down chimneys and stuff stockings with gifts and treats nibbling on milk and cookies as he goes, but what the season is truly about is gathering family and friends to fulfill traditions passed down through generations, laugh, joke, reminisce and simply enjoy good company.

This year Marshall, Bradley, Brooks and I made our way to the Chilmark Church to take our place in the rear right pew surrounded by Kathie and Emmett Carroll, Tim Carroll, Genc Brinja, Bill Smith, Ted and Judy Mayhew, Tyler, Sarah and Charlie Shipway, Julie and Fran Flanders, Bella Thorpe, Buffy and Christian Carroll, Billie Hancock who traveled from Florida, the Cioffis, the Carrs, the Cabots, the Goffs and more. I’ll admit I’m not in it for the religion but I do appreciate the symbolic spreading of support from one person to another as they lean in to share their flame at the annual candlelight service. Although the room is filled with voices in song, it is, oddly enough, a moment for quiet reflection.

This year, as I sat wrapped in candle light surrounded by song, I reflected on, among other things, community members we have lost, the absence of the Weidner/Ruimerman family (poor Janet is home with pneumonia so do send her well wishes), my daughter’s final semester of college and more. From across the room I could hear a moment, just a moment, of quiet fussing from four-month-old Ethan Smestad, son of Sara and Scott. I heard his voice and smiled because even if the sound is not laughter, babies bring joy.

A little joy was contributed to Serving Hands Family 2 Family baskets this year by the Glasgow family of the Grey Barn. Molly delivered 132 of the farm’s Eidolon cheeses for the annual Christmas meal distribution. Donations can be sent to Family 2 Family, PO Box 4685, Vineyard Haven, MA, 02568, or reach out to coordinator Betty Burton at 508-693-5339.

Scott McDowell, Annette Cingle and Annalee Hoy opened their home at the CopperWorks for their annual season tradition of ornament making. The shop was overflowing with the crafty creativity and over-achieving skills of Emily, Mary and Jonathan Boyd, Claus, Clyde and Noni Smith, Sean Egan, Bryce and Brian Cioffi, Quinn Cathey, Jane, Caleb, Chris and Celia Slater, Maddy and Philippe Ezanno, Buddy and Lisa Vanderhoop, Ruby Hoy, Wendy Swolinsky and more. There was laughter, calls for burn cream because hot glue is just that, hot, reminiscing about Scott’s copper ornaments over the years, bacon wrapped treats, scallops in some sort of yogurt-y concoction, frosted cookies and more.

Kerin Mosiere of Melbourne Australia enjoyed a holiday visit with her third cousin Jane Slater at Jane’s Basin Road home. Kerin, who has visited before, continues to familiarize herself with the friends, family and landscape of her great grandfather, George Harvey Mosher who was born and raised in Chilmark and found his way to Australia on a whale ship from here. She has promised Jane she will return to, presumably, pick right back up where they left off. What an exciting visit it was for both.

As I mentioned last week, a quick recap of the Chilmark Fire Department’s children’s Christmas party goes like this: the excitement was virtually uncontainable as our littlest town’s members trickled in with their parents carrying tasty dishes to share at what blossomed into a potluck event. Santa took time out of his busy schedule to make a quick trip from the North Pole to join Ellen and Tauras Biskis as they led all those who gathered in joyful Christmas Carols. Santa handed out the first gifts of Christmas to Lenora Ruel, Booker Weisner, Liam Norton and Razmus Ruel who were the youngest party goers in the room. A big shout of appreciation goes to the entire Chilmark Fire Department for hosting such a timeless tradition fast approaching the century-long mark. Heartfelt thankyous also go to Bobby Brown for pinch hitting a significant role, Pam Bunker for assisting in the coordination of the potluck, Matt Tobin for sharing a beautiful tree, Rodney Bunker for the remarkable upkeep of the CCC, Ellen and Tauras Biskis for leading us in song, the grandparents who joined in the merriment and to all those who stayed late to assist in clean up, including the Fenners, Carrolls and Anthonys.

Don’t forget, the fun isn’t over. The books that remain at the Library’s book sale are now free!

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