22 Oct 2013

Nantucket Island Family Affair

For those of us in the Baby Boomer generation and beyond, the phrase “Family Affair” brings to mind the 1960’s sitcom of the same name.  The dashing and debonair Uncle Bill is charged with raising his brother’s three young children. A daunting task for a successful corporate bachelor, manageable only with the assistance of his “right hand man,” the robust and dignified, yet warm and sensitive Household Manager, Mr. French.  Cissy, Jody and little Buffy Davis (who was rarely seen without her beloved Mrs. Beasley doll) stole our hearts and made us feel like an extension of their family unit. This was our very early exposure to television’s depiction of the unconventional blended family and one whose weekly storylines reminded us that it truly does “take a village” to raise the children.

Nantucket has a long standing history of banding together as a community to nurture its families. In its earliest days, as the sea captains pulled up anchor and embarked on journeys that would leave them separated from their wife and children for months on end (sometimes years!), Nantucket and its people purposed to work together, neighbor helping neighbor, to maintain homes and businesses and provide loving care and education for the children. Today, those deep rooted family values and community efforts are still evident with a multitude of great schools (both private and public), terrific family focused organizations like the Nantucket Boys and Girls ClubMentoring Youth NantucketNantucket S.T.A.R. and Community Network for Children (to name a few), all working in sync to provide a safe, healthy island haven where Nantucket families can thrive.

Perhaps most endearing are the family stories that unfold from time and experiences on Nantucket. I repeatedly hear accounts from people whose grandparents first brought them to the island decades ago and who continue to summer here with their own grandchildren. The island is steeped in history so there are countless narratives from those who have twelve generations of Nantucket tales to share of family successes and tragedies…dreams realized and others too soon dashed.  I’m a hopeless romantic so I am partial to the tales from couples who met here while working as young adults, married on the island and now have homes, careers and children in the Nantucket school system.

The stories are all unique, but the common bond is consistent…we all love gathering our family together on Nantucket. Little Cate in the photo above (who I encountered on the new Cisco Bike Path this summer) has discovered at an early age what we all know to be true – even something as simple as a morning bike ride is better when the whole gang comes along for the ride.

Make a plan now to organize a Nantucket Island family affair. Fly a kite on Coatue with the kids, host a clambake with three generations of cousins, go surfcasting in Madequecham with grandpa, take a Surfside Beach stroll with a sibling, bike through ‘Sconset with mom or organize a Madaket sunset sail for the whole crew. Enlist island friends and neighbors to help attend to the details or check the Nantucket Bucket for upcoming family friendly activities and keep it…

all in the family.

Shellie Dunlap

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