Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas on Nantucket

Greetings from Cape Cod MA, where we're expecting our first significant snowfall tonight. Sigh. I knew we should have bought a house with an attached garage. But we're hardy New Englanders, used to scraping off windshields and chipping frozen door locks. Can't wait! (Not.)

Christmas is only six days away, and we New Englanders really know how to celebrate the season. Cape Cod is magical this time of year -- well, it's magical every time of year in different ways -- but those folks on the blessed isle of Nantucket -- a hop, skip, and a fast ferry or plane ride across the water -- really know how to celebrate the season. And that's why I decided to set Marriage Can Be Murder, the third in my Baby Boomer mystery series on Nantucket during the first weekend of December, which is Christmas Stroll weekend. Naturally, I had to visit the island during Stroll weekend to get the full flavor of the event.

For those of you who've never visited Nantucket, let me give you a little background info. Nantucket is a small island off the coast of Cape Cod, which back in the 18th and 19th centuries was one of the whaling capitals of the country. Ship captains would set out with their crews to catch the mighty beasts -- remember Moby Dick? -- and sometimes would be at sea for over a year. Their families had to be a very self-sufficient bunch, although the wives, according to local lore, spent a lot of time on the roofs of their houses gazing out at sea . Hence, the term widows' walk, and many Nantucket homes have them to this day.

The island is quaint and beautiful, and has a small year-round population which swells to welcome hordes of tourists in the summer months. Beautiful, expensive shops like Lilly Pulitzer and Ralph Lauren, trendy restaurants, charming bed and breakfasts, wonderful beaches. Because Nantucket is an island, everything has to be shipped in, so prices are more expensive than on the mainland. Although Christmas Stroll traditionally runs from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, the first weekend in December is the biggest celebration. Decorated trees are in front of all the shops, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce, and Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on a Coast Guard cutter to the cheers of local school children. When twilight comes, everyone (who isn't shopping or imbibing) gathers in front of the local bank at the top of Main St. for caroling.

It's an atmosphere I hope to recreate in the next book.

Hmm. Now where will I hide the body?

Happy Holidays!


kendraleeann said...

This is very cool!!!

How lovely - first snowfall for Christmas...great if you don't need to go anywhere.

Thinking of you and wishing you a beautiful Christmas.

Sending a big e-hug and our love,

Lynn & Bob Dennis

LPray said...

Did you check out the White Elephant Inn while on Nantucket? We were there the last weekend before it closed for the season a few years ago. It is a short walk from the Ferry Dock and is near a very photogenic old lighthouse (you have to crawl over a fence and across an old beach to get to it). I'm a lighthouse fanatic and it just oozes long lost ghosts!

Margot said...

My family and I really needed a time out from our work and a friend suggested we go to Cape Cod. When we arrived on Cape Cod, I was surprised that it was a serene place, but there were a lot of fun things to do on Cape Cod! We went sailing in Hyannis Harbor on a sailboat and then we went to Provincetown to watch whales do their thing. The experience was just plain awesome, we all feel energized when we got back to our house.