You can’t beat holidays on the Rock | Rockin’ A Hard Place

You know what I enjoy most about holiday season on the Rock? Wherever I go, it’s as if the last 50 years never happened.

Soon, we’ll see those hand-painted snowmen along Main Street in Coupeville, made out of good, Northwest plywood.

They aren’t animatronic and they don’t sing “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.” How refreshing!

We’ll see only a few outdoor light displays that require software and a digital sound board to control their coordinated blinking and blaring.

Those will likely be the handiwork of new arrivals from America who don’t know any better.

On the Rock, we like our holiday decorations simple and unamplified. Just a few strings of outdoor lights with colored bulbs — not all clear white and no twinkling, please.

Last year, I actually witnessed a Rock dweller stringing tinsel on her tree.

Of course it was vinyl, not the aluminum kind I knew as a kid, and it was probably made in China from recycled TVs and cell phones.

But it was still tinsel, and she was putting it on strand by strand. It made me daydream that Eisenhower might still be president.    

This Saturday, Dec. 6, we’ll celebrate a real holiday tradition on the Rock.

It’s time for the annual holiday bazaar and luncheon at the Coupeville United Methodist Church. I doubt that the merchandise and the menu have changed much since 1955.

Hopefully, we’ll dine as always on their famous chicken and green bean casserole topped with buttery bread crumbs, Jell-O salad with chopped cranberries and walnuts, and a soft dinner roll that will be un-French or not at all crusty.

For dessert there should be a choice of homemade pie, followed by a cup of hot tea from a pot covered by a hand-knit cozy.

If I close my eyes, I may remember when all I wanted for Christmas was my two front teeth.

Then will come one of the true joys of the holiday season on the Rock.

That would be shopping for unique “from Whidbey” gifts to send to friends and relatives back in America.

And that means scouring church bazaars, holiday markets, boutiques, gift shops, galleries, wood carvers, painters, potters and purveyors of local food products.

Among the treasures I bought last year were these: a loaf of pumpkin-cider bread baked by the Coupeville Methodist ladies; a hand-knit toaster cozy, also from the Methodist ladies; a wreath made out of bird seed; a lavender sachet to keep your sock drawer from smelling; a half dozen pieces of lefse from the Lutheran church ladies that I sent to my Texas friends, who mistook them for tortillas; two potholders made out of the Swedish flag; and a barometer mounted on a hand-carved cedar branch that fell across a power line last winter.

How Whidbey can you get?

The one thing you really don’t want to do, however, is give a “from Whidbey” gift to another Rock dweller.

Their homes are as littered with that stuff as yours is, and they don’t need any more.

Better to give them something they may really want.

A visit to a tanning booth, perhaps. Or a gift card from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Happy Rockin’ holidays!