A Stroll Back in Time

I posted my last entry about the holidays before they got any further away in time. However, I also wanted to highlight another holiday activity of ours: the recent trip my wife and I made back to the island of Nantucket, where we used to live before moving here to historic Franklin. It was in multiple ways a stroll back in time for us as we visited the island during its annual nautical-themed Christmas Stroll the first weekend in December.

We stayed the entire week with good friends of ours who succeeded in keeping our visit a secret, just as we had requested. It was so much fun seeing the surprised look on people’s faces when we showed up at church the morning after our arrival, including the pastors of the church whom we had stayed with for a month before leaving Nantucket a year and a half earlier. It was as if time had stood still during our absence and we picked up right where we had left off.

Linda and I agree that it was our favorite vacation in many ways, not the least of which were our friends’ gracious hospitality, our ability to forgo the ferry and fly all the way onto the island, visiting our favorite haunts like the Downyflake and the Brotherhood, and getting invited by a friend [who happens to be the commodore] to attend a meeting of the renowned Wharf Rat Club, whose eclectic membership includes statesmen, sailors and storytellers of all stripes.

Living the Dream

It has been some time since I blogged due to our busy slate of holiday activities but I had to post today because we got our first snowfall here in Franklin. Snow is only covering the ground but it adds a festive touch to our already joyous holiday season. It has been such fun celebrating the holidays here that it has reminded me how very much I am “living the dream.”

The holiday festivities kicked off earlier with Historic Franklin’s “Dickens of a Christmas” street faire, complete with costumed characters from A Christmas Carol playing live at the circa 1937 Franklin Theatre. And speaking of the theatre, on Christmas Eve my wife, Linda, and I saw our favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, at the theatre and we return on New Year’s Eve to swing to the sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

It is so awesome being able to walk downtown to the different cafes and shops and soak in the ambience of an old fashioned Christmas. We recently invited friends to visit our circa 1930 home in the historic district and to join us for a stroll downtown to the festivities when one of them exclaimed, “This is so romantic!” And it was just last year that another friend of ours remarked, “Your lives are like a movie!”

So perhaps we could describe our experiences as being like a dreamy, romantic movie? Whatever the description, Linda and I frequently feel the need to pinch ourselves to remind us of how blessed we are to live in such special places. As regular readers will recall, it was just this type of lifestyle that we envisioned a couple of years ago when we placed our house for sale and our dreams in the hands of the One whom we celebrate.

Nantucket Noel

My wife and I agree that this Christmas has been our favorite one together, which is rather ironic given that we are several hundred miles from family and friends on an island thirty miles out to sea. One contributing factor is that winter here strips away the distractions of life and helps us to focus on the reason for the season: the incarnation of Christ. Another factor is that we are living in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, particularly during the holidays.

For its part, Nantucket has several hundred colonial-era buildings, more than anywhere else in America, a fact made all the more astonishing when you consider that many more were lost in an epic fire. Add to the historic buildings the cobblestone streets, old-fashioned lampposts, and traditional decorations of evergreen trees and wreaths with white lights and candles, and you experience a holiday dreamscape capable of soothing even the most jaded of holiday shoppers.

And speaking of shopping, its absence in our lives was another major contributor to our holiday bliss this year. With our yearlong downscaling of possessions, whereby we gave most of our stuff to friends and family before moving here, shopping wasn’t a big deal. As for us, we had bought each other several gifts before the holidays as the need arose so we simply exchanged a couple of gifts on the day of Christmas. The only thing missing was the snow that was forecast but failed to fall.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, the first thing you see as you enter Nantucket Harbor is the Brant Point lighthouse, which dates to 1746 and is the second oldest lighthouse in America. One of the neat things about living here during the winter is seeing it nautically decorated for Christmas with the Coast Guard’s crossing of oars in the center of a festooned wreath, reminding one and all of this faraway isle’s maritime heritage.

As we soon learned upon our arrival here nearly two months ago, “washashores” is the official term used to describe folks like us who move here from “America,” as off-island is referred to by locals. And while we may be washashores we have enjoyed a very warm welcome. Indeed, one of the pleasant surprises about life here is how friendly the people generally are, an attribute I think results from braving winters together on a secluded island.

In Walden, Thoreau observed, “At length the winter set in good earnest ... and the wind began to howl around the house as if it had not had permission to do so till then . . . I withdrew yet farther into my shell, and endeavored to keep a bright fire both within my house and within my breast.” While we don’t have a fireplace here like we did in Florida [go figure] today is the warmest first day of winter on record here, at a balmy 55 degrees!

In closing, I leave you with the observation of Moby Dick author Herman Melville: “Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than a lighthouse. Look at it: a mere hillock, and elbow of sand; all beach, without a background.” And home to washashores.