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THROWING PAINT

A Community Christmas Celebration

Christmas in Nantucket

I missed Christmas Stroll this year.  I was in Rhode Island taking care of grandchildren while my daughter and her husband celebrated their birthdays in St. Barts.  While, if truth be told, I have never been on Nantucket for Stroll, I really hope to be able to be here for that celebration some year.  Nevertheless, there is so much more to Christmas on the Island than Stroll.  While Nantucket is a tourist destination, it is also a community that celebrates Christmas in its own way. 

Christmas began for me with Thanksgiving.  I loved the Turkey Plunge at Children’s Beach, although I did now go into the water. My daughter and two of my grandchildren did.  It was freezing but fun.  The weekend of Thanksgiving featured the Festival of Wreaths at the Whaling Museum. The Nantucket Chronicle gave me the privilege of making the wreath for the Chronicle for this function.  I loved making it!  In fact, I am planning to make a number of Nantucket shaped wreaths to sell next year.  I was so excited about the Chronicle wreath that I also made one of my own design--just for me—and submitted it.  Both wreaths received respectable bids, and all the money supports the Nantucket Historical Society.

Thanksgiving also marked the beginning of the Christmas season on Nantucket with the tree lighting on Main Street.  Stores were open and serving cider, eggnog, and cookies.  Groups were singing carols. The streets were lined with trees that were lit and had been decorated by the community including all the school children.  By chance, I was downtown at the Hub when the children from Nantucket Elementary School were downtown decorating their trees.  It was wonderful to see their pride and enthusiasm for the decorations they had made and how beautiful each tree looked.  Their excitement was infectious.  The big tree before the bank at the top of Main Streets was lit to the sound of cheers and carols.  After all, this is small town Nantucket, and it is sublime.

The Festival of Trees at the Nantucket Historical Association featured 80 trees decorated by local businesses and individuals.  Again the opening gala was amazing, and it is worth touring more than once.  The Theater Workshop of Nantucket presented A Christmas Story, which was amazing.  The cast was full of local children and adult actors.  The professional quality of the work was worthy of Broadway, and it brought the real joy of the season each and every person who saw it. 

Homes in Nantucket are elaborately decorated.  A tour of homes is a great project for any evening.  One can take a formal tour of lights on December 23 after which a winner is announced.

This past weekend was the weekend of fairs.  The Nantucket Lighthouse School had a Christmas Fair at the Nantucket Yacht Club.  The opening gala was amazing—a great band, elegant food, art, and crafts that were handmade by students, faculty, and friends of the school.  These were astonishing professional and beautifully crafted.  I was in awe.  Next year I am going to really save my money to shop at this fair.  I am also going to start in September making art and crafts to contribute.

The next day marked December Delight—a Christmas Fair at the Nantucket Public School.  Again, it was amazing.  Local artists showed their work.  Parents and students made work for the fair.  Local businesses contributed packages for raffle.  It was full of excitement and energy—and again—I need to save my money for next year. I desperately wanted to bid on a tree full of lottery tickets, but sadly realized that after two Christmas fairs, I had only thee dollars left, and a ticket was five dollars!

There is a plethora of Christmas activities during the holiday season—Holiday Family Magic at the Whaling Museum and “Heirloom Meals Christmas Special” at the Dreamland to name just a couple. There are lots of private parties. I attended an amazing 75th Birthday party with 40 women at a friend’s house, a fabulous “Peppermint Party” hosted by another friend, and both my Book Clubs have poetry nights in December.  There are holiday dinners with friends, people stopping in for drinks, Christmas parties at the Art Association of Nantucket, and a host of other events.  Tonight there was even a smattering of snow to usher in the season. 

Finally, there are the amazing RED TICKETS given to shoppers depending how how much they spend on-Island.  To encourage shopping on Nantucket, local businesses award one red ticket for every $25.00 spend from November 1 to December 24.  The drawing is on Christmas Eve on Main Street, and there are five one-thousand dollar prizes and a $5000.00 grand prize.   Each year, I collect all my tickets, but because I won’t be here on Christmas Eve, I give my tickets to others before I go to Colorado.  This year is no exception.  I am busy collecting tickets—and already, I have given a handful of tickets to at least three people, and I have a plastic bag full of tickets to continue to give to people until just before I leave for Colorado on the 18th of December.

This has been a bit of a list, but I wanted everyone to know that Christmas on Nantucket does not stop with Stroll!  It is rich and alive and exciting everyday and every evening until the holiday ends.  This is my first Christmas on the Island, and in so many ways, I am sorry that I will not be here for the whole season.  I would love to celebrate New Year’s at the Nantucket Hotel with friends, and usher in the first with a champagne brunch.  Nevertheless, I am also excited to spend the holidays with family!!