11 Dec 2018

Nantucket Good Cheer

Photo courtesy of Nicole Harnishfeger I&M Photo
In his 1843 novella, “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens introduces us to the now infamous Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who has a disdain for all things Christmas. As the story unfolds and Scrooge is visited from Ghosts of Christmas’s past, his mood is elevated and his rough edges smoothed. Dickens concludes, “It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
I witnessed this lofty holiday sentiment first hand a couple weeks ago while spending a weekend in New York City. We hadn’t been in the Big Apple over the holidays for years, so we were excited for the usual thrills. The giant decorated tree at Rockefeller Center, the ornate and elaborate window displays at Bergdorf’s, Saks and Macys and the chestnuts roasting on an open fire (literally!) on every street corner. What we were unprepared for was the unprecedented display of exuberance, holiday cheer and downright joy from our good friends at the Salvation Army.
On nearly every corner in the city there was a duo of volunteers, outfitted in their traditional uniforms, clanging their holiday bells and holding the famed red offering bucket. What was new and unexpected was this year they have speakers blaring upbeat tunes that they were singing, dancing and literally performing to. In every instance, large crowds were gathered to clap along, sing along and in some cases dance along on the sidewalk. Every single one…to a person…was sporting a huge smile. It was evident the organization had made a corporate decision to spread good cheer far and wide this holiday season….and it worked!
The Nantucket Chamber and Visitors Center, along with multiple island businesses and organizations, have made the same decision this season. We had the pleasure of attending the White Heron‘s production of “A Christmas Carol” this weekend, where they put a local Nantucket twist on the age-old story but managed to make us laugh out loud and leave us with the same warm fuzzy holiday spirit Dickens imagined. The Whaling Museum is featuring their Festival of Trees and Holiday Magic and the Dreamland Theater is showcasing the Nutcracker…all in an effort to spread joy and holiday cheer to island residents and visitors.
If you’re lucky enough to be on Nantucket in December, take a walk up Main Street late in the evening where you’ll be awed by the tree lined cobblestone street and beautifully adorned store fronts (and you may be the only human in sight!). Take in a Christmas pageant at St Paul’s, the Story of Christmas at First Congregational or stop by the Christmas Cantata at Summer Street Church this weekend. Or simply grab a few friends, some hot cocoa and earmuffs and spread joy as you sing a few carols while strolling through a Nantucket neighborhood. Holiday cheer is free and as Dickens says…contagious.
Bless us, one and all.
Shellie Dunlap
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