Around the Island

Richard’s almanac: Eat, drink and be merry

Well, Thanksgiving is over and it’s the Christmas season.

With Thanksgiving being so late this year, we have fewer days left until Christmas Day. So the lights are coming out, the trees are being decorated and the wreaths are going up. We’re even being treated to dustings of snow. With all those decorations here and the Island folks moving about, it looks like the set of a Hallmark film.

But I can’t get into the Christmas spirit yet. I’m still savoring the good feelings of Thanksgiving celebrations. I went to four of them.

They started last Tuesday at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. My grandson Leonardo is a student there and I teach a class there. I was invited to their Feast of Remembrance. The school honors alumni going back to the school’s founding almost a quarter of a century ago. The parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and students also were treated to a Shinnecock dance and songs performed by tribe members who are alumni and students.

Afterwards, everyone went to the school’s dining room for the feast. Turkeys were cooked by parents and brought to the school along with potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a variety of breads, vegetables, salads and cider. I was pleased to be included.

Then on Thanksgiving day, my son Victor and two children came to the Island from New Jersey and we went to my daughter Lora’s house for dinner. Everyone made part of the dinner. Lora made the stuffing, her husband, Bran, cooked the turkey (he had just cooked one the day before for Hayground), Leonardo did the green beans and sister Myla prepared the mashed potatoes. I brought over baked clams and Victor made cranberry sauce and stuffed mushrooms. 

We all had a great family time.

The next day Bran’s family arrived from Orient, Greenport and New York. People who had not seen each other for a while reconnected. The small children thoroughly enjoyed the trampoline. Guests brought soups, cheeses, breads and barbecued turkey wings, among other good foods. 

On Saturday some of my family arrived from Northport and Connecticut. Lora’s trampoline was once again a big hit with the kids. I prepared a baked ham for the feast while the guests brought pies, sweet potatoes and salad. Another day of reconnecting with loved ones.

And at all these events everyone seemed to get along so well. There were no conversations about controversial subjects. All political subjects were avoided. There were no angry arguments, even though participants were from varying political persuasions. We concentrated on being thankful for what we had.

The tone was very different than I remember from Thanksgiving dinners with extended family more than a half-century ago. Politics dominated the post dinner discussions. The adults were World War I and II and Korean War veterans. Some were supporters of the Vietnam War while others were strongly opposed. Conversations were polarized and never solved anything. Except to make family members feel bad. Some sons were over there with the Army and Marine Corps.

Those were difficult times. 

And we’re in the middle of some difficult times now.

Meanwhile, Giovanna and her crew prepared a turkey dinner at the Senior Center last Wednesday for the Silver Circle. Director Laurie Fanelli had the dining area decorated for the season along with a huge blow-up turkey in the corner.