03 Dec 2013

Beholden to Nantucket Island

Thanksgiving may be in the rear view mirror, but the spirit of thankfulness is still alive and well here on Nantucket. Many on the island (and around the country) took to their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds and spent November documenting their personal “30 days of gratitude.” Although I did not publicly join in the fray, I was moved by the accounts and reflections which caused me to pause and consider how many things (big and small) we all have to be thankful for. In her inspirational bestseller “Help, Thanks, Wow,” Anne Lamott imparts, “When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime… and in the past few days… it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”

Nantucket offers all of us countless daily reasons to give thanks.  Her sunrises and sunsets, pristine beaches and rolling dunes, charming storefronts and quaint cottages, historic landmarks and cobblestone streets…and the people, from then and now, who made it all possible. But somehow when we pause to consider all this, gratitude seems insufficient.  We owe a debt to the island. On this tiny body of sand in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, many have formed lifelong friendships, met their soul mates, raised children and grandchildren, celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and family reunions. Long walks in Sanford Farm at dusk or along ‘Sconset Beach just as the sun crests over the water have brought clarity of mind, ignited untapped creativity and ushered peace and calm into life’s chaos.

As Nantucket summer residents, our home was a continuous revolving door of family, friends and visitors.  Our family discovered one of life’s hidden treasures…and knew the only response was to introduce the island’s charm to others. Now that we live here year round, our desire to share the island has not diminished, but simply been transformed as we welcome guests to the island during every season and reveal her hidden “secrets” gleaned from personal experience and long time local residents. Devotion to the Grey Lady is contagious and evident as we watch friends who were once summer guests purchase their own Nantucket homes and fill the calendar with visits from friends and loved ones because they too realize the island’s magic is something to be shared.

This holiday season, there are innumerable ways we can…and should…give back to the island that has given so much to us…countless great causes, organizations, people and businesses who need our support and involvement to ease their burdens or assist in their missions.  But perhaps the simplest way we can express our gratitude and “give back” to Nantucket is by sharing her with others…to throw open wide our island doors and invite friends, family and first time visitors to experience the calm…the history…the hospitality…and the inexplicable beauty that is Nantucket.

Share the moments.

Shellie Dunlap

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