11 Sep 2012

Nantucket Traditions…

Nantucket traditions
Billy Graham once said, “The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives.” I was thinking about those words last weekend when our son Drew and his family were here for a visit. Now that my husband Dan and I live on the island year round, we sometimes forget to stop and enjoy all the little things that make the island so special. There’s nothing like a visit from one of our kids to push us into tourist mode and remind us why we love living on Nantucket.A friend of mine told me that a question was asked of her college son’s friend this summer (a first time Nantucket visitor) to sum up his initial thoughts on Nantucket in one word. Without hesitation, he said “legacy.” He told the crowd he had never been to a place that was so obviously ripe with long standing family traditions. It’s true. Whether it’s families who have lived on the island for generations or families enjoying their first Nantucket vacation, as you talk with people about their Nantucket experience it often involves lobster dinner rituals, ceremonial sunset toasts or late night strolls through downtown with a mandatory stop at the Juice Guys for ice cream. The stuff memories are made of.

For a few short days last week, it felt like somebody hit rewind on the DVD of our life. Our son was so excited to introduce our granddaughter Tobie to his favorite childhood haunts and adventures and she was equally anxious to return to places that she discovered on her visit last summer. We interrupted dinner to catch the sun dipping into the ocean at Cisco. Our son reminisced about many a cold dinner as a child because food could always wait, but a magical sunset wasn’t to be missed. After PB&J at Claudette’s, we walked the entire length of the Bluff path in Sconset. The little toy fairies and hand crafted bird houses hiding in the trees along the way are now long gone, but the Bluff holds new magic for a curious four year old. Tobie hunted tirelessly in the town creeks for the same horseshoe crabs that always eluded her daddy. Like her dad, she was unable to snag one, but did hit the mother load of little hermit crabs. Drew introduced his little girl to the “magic” sandbar in Dionis where you can literally walk on water almost to Hyannis (or so he told her). They went exploring in the State Forest where Drew had taken dozens of kids during his years as a Boys and Girls Club Counselor. He remembered it being bigger, Tobie thought it was huge.

When Drew was little he often awoke to piping hot Downey Flake donuts that his dad had retrieved as the sun was rising. Last week as Dan and I heard the shells crunching on the driveway each morning at dawn, we knew the baton had been passed as Drew made the donut run for his family. On the day of their departure, Dan and I distributed the ceremonial pennies as the kids boarded the ferry and then spent some time reflecting on the unbelievable opportunities Nantucket has afforded our family. Not just in possessions…but truly in our quality of life.

What are your favorite Nantucket family traditions? Golf, sailing or croquet on the lawn? Perhaps you frequent the same beach for sunset fishing or picnics. Maybe it’s something as simple as a scheduled family board game night. Whatever is important to your family, be sure to make plans now to put some of those things on the agenda for your next Nantucket vacation.

Leave a legacy.

Shellie Dunlap

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