When I was a kid, my grandmother did not take down her Christmas tree before the Feast of the Holy Trinity on Thursday, January 6th. I remember mimicking her tradition in my own adult life, and I also remember not quite knowing what it symbolized. . One of those kind of thoughtless, rather than mindful, things we do because we’ve always done them.
I have searched the internet and come to the conclusion that Holy Trinity refers to the revelation of the three kings (the non-Jewish magic) when they found the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph by following that star early after the birth of Jesus. It has basically been considered the “revelation to the Gentiles.” I do not think I have the time or space to get into all the directives involved in this information. Nor was I aware that the time between December 25 and January 6 is referred to as the Twelve Days of Christmas. I think I must have thought of the song, not the meaning. Oh, what you can learn from a Google search.
I was happy to read that the feast is a good occasion to center around the family, as in the holy family. To celebrate, you can bake a sweet “king cake” for the kids who have a treasure hidden inside, or you can just make sure to focus on the family during that time.
I used to get Advent calendars for my own kids before Christmas and I remember that St. Nicholas filled our shoes with goodies on December 6th when I was growing up. It was fun to mix the joys of childhood with events related to the church. It made me think the church could be fun anyway.
The liturgical calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, is marked by celebrations – some solemn and some joyful. All these days together constitute a cycle that ebbs and flows; the liturgical calendar even offers “ordinary time”, all the days between the special celebrations.
My Advent calendar days are over for now and I have not donated St. Nicholas Day a thought for a long time. The thing about Christmas time, though, is that it brings us all back to our childhood in one way or another. The wonder of the decorated tree and the twinkling lights, favorite dishes on the holiday menu and most of all gathering with family members, we may not see so often. All those things brought me joy when I was younger, and now, the older I get, the more joy I find in them again. I’m glad we can find ways to extend the holiday season to a longer period. I think next year we’ll leave the tree until Christmas time is completely over.
I decided to get in touch with our places of worship to see how the community meals are going. Not surprisingly, some people are dealing with an ongoing work, while others have their schedule and their events ready. As I get more information, we can add to this list.
First Congregational Church of West Tisbury starts weekly Community Suppers on Wednesdays, beginning January 12th through April 27th. Dinner is by reservation and will be distributed through curb pickup, with delivery to those who can not drive. Please email WTComSuppers@gmail.com to reserve your meal as far in advance as possible. The church will soon have an easy online registration form on its website, wtcongregationalchurch.org. People who are unfamiliar with online options can call the church at 508-693-2842. First Congregational is also looking to add their winter volunteer team with weekly openings for cooking, packing, small tasks and deliveries. Join them at bit.ly/fccwtcomsup.
In the Grace Episcopal Church, volunteers are holding the show with pick-up community dinners next door, scheduled for Friday from 5:30 to 5:30 p.m. They ask you to reserve your meal by signing up for their app, which you can find on their website, graceepiscopalmv.org, or by calling the church on 508-693-0332 no later than Thursday afternoon. Call 508-523-1373 if you would like to volunteer to help with the communal dining.
United Methodist Church in the Campground continues its collaboration with Oak Bluffs chefs. This upcoming Community Soup, which takes place on Saturday, January 8, will be prepared by Ocean View restaurant and ready for pickup at the front desk from 6 p.m. 13.00 to 14.00. Barbara Spain from UMC says they prepare about 125 meals for distribution, and they offer communal dining every other Saturday until the end of March. “Make a reservation by calling the parish house number (508-693-4424) and leave a message with your name, phone number and the number of meals you would like,” says Barbara. And to help move the process, you can put your last name and number of meals on a piece of paper on your car windshield or dashboard, and someone will load your dinner for you. It is best to call no later than Friday at 7 p.m., she says. They do, however, have a cut-off on the 125 dinners, but if you call too late, you might still be able to get past a little after 6 p.m. 14 and check for debris. And, if you would like to help with the communal dining, send an email to Barbara at email@example.com.
Good Shepherd Parish will serve take-out dinners Thursdays January 6 through April 7.
Call 508-684-6270 no later than 18:00 on Monday to hear the menu and record your request. Pickup is from 5pm to 5.30pm in St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven. Good Shepherd offers these dinners with the help and cooperation of the Hebraw Center.
And I promise to keep adding to this list as I get more information. Keeping these dinners alive is a great thing no matter how they are served.