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Holiday Improvisations

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 06:48
Winter on the beach.
Durell Godfrey

Christmas was a new experience when I married into a local family and settled in Amagansett in the early 1960s. Neither my upbringing, which was secular and Jewish, nor my college years or gad-about life in New York City as a young woman of bohemian leanings had been at all Kris Kringle-y.

Jeannette Edwards Rattray, my new mother-in-law, had grown up among the Amagansett Edwardses, forebears who had the fiber of East End generations in their bones: courage, stick-to-it-iveness, and wanderlust. She was a strong woman, a bit imperious, but still gracious, and her open-minded sensibility had been enhanced by a sojourn in China and the Philippines as what they called a "girl reporter." She was rooted but also worldly, and I can remember feeling a bit nervous about sharing with her my first East Hampton Christmas — my first Christmas, full stop.

Sequestered in a small bedroom that had been my husband's as a boy, I mustered all my creativity to wrap my gifts with cheerful paper I had scrounged up somewhere, using colored pencils and crayons to craft homemade cards. I remember a book wrapped diagonally, with a narrow roll of matching paper rather than a ribbon and bow. I didn't have any ribbon, but I recall feeling quite proud of the results.

Making memories is what's best about the holidays, don't you think? This year, 2020, we may all have to get a bit improvisational again with our celebrations — but I hope December will provide you with many sweet moments, nevertheless.


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