29 Nov 2016

Nantucket Memories

I love to binge watch old movies on a brisk and damp fall weekend…and I’m a real sap when it comes to romance. I don’t think there’s a movie out there that can cue the waterworks faster than “An Affair To Remember.” Although the remake was admirable, I still prefer the original version where Deborah Kerr is just sublime and Cary Grant is…well Cary Grant.I think about one of the lines from the movie whenever I return home to Nantucket this time of year after a few days spent off island with family and friends. “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories,” Kerr asserted. Memories indeed are the most prized possessions we have when it’s all said and done.
As the Hy-Line Ferry rounds Brant Point and the illuminated holiday wreath comes into view on the lighthouse, I’m always flooded with memories of dozens of holidays past. During the years when Nantucket was only a part time home for our family, it became our tradition to celebrate Christmas on the island – either during Stroll weekend or for a coveted couple of weeks over the actual Christmas holiday. We would arrive on the island with the usual holiday “to do” list – grocery shopping, last minute gift purchases, a tree to decorate. But quickly our attention would shift to the things we loved about spending the holidays on a little island – the memory making stuff.
For almost 20 years our family spent Christmas Eve gathered with hundreds of local revelers on Main Street for the red ticket drawing. When the drawing was finished we’d make one last pass up Center Street and down India to browse the shop windows, admire the creatively decorated trees lining the streets and pause at the top of Main Street to look down toward the harbor…and sigh…as we considered the Currier and Ives moment we were lucky enough to be part of.
From there, we’d go directly to the candlelight service at Summer Street Church and then immediately to The Woodbox where the candlelight theme continued for our dining pleasure. To this day I can distinctly remember exactly what the historic restaurant smelled like every Christmas Eve…the wood smoke from the fireplace, the aroma of Yorkshire pudding, Welsh rarebit and Beef Wellington wafting from the kitchen and the distinct blend of pine and cranberries from the holiday sprays on the doorways and tables. The Woodbox is now under new ownership and sadly no longer open on Christmas Eve, but the memories live on. I’m reminded that my children likely have no idea what gifts they received during those years, but they’ll never forget the traditions we hold dear or the memories we made during their childhood.
As you prepare to make memories with your friends and family this holiday season, what’s on your bucket list? Maybe your family likes to greet Mr. and Mrs. Claus as they arrive at the Nantucket boat basin for Christmas Stroll. Perhaps you’ll want to attend the red ticket drawing on Main Street on Christmas Eve (who knows it may be your lucky year!) Or maybe it’s as simple as a family board game, multi-generation walk on the beach or a good old fashioned home cooked meal (sans electronic devices) where love and laughter abound. Make some memories this year and…
Make them count.
Shellie Dunlap
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