New England

In Praise of Small Gifts | Inside Yankee

In the last week of August, a reader from East Dummerston, Vermont, sent us an email that began, “I don’t know why I haven’t written before to say how much I love Yankee.” She went on to write: “I savor every article and even read the ads … I won’t allow myself to read the […]

By Mel Allen

Oct 24 2018

Mel Allen
Mel Allen

In the last week of August, a reader from East Dummerston, Vermont, sent usan email that began, “I don’t know why I haven’t written before to say how much I love Yankee.” She went on to write: “I savor every article and even read the ads … I won’t allow myself to read the entire magazine in one or even two days. I make it last like fine wine or a special dessert, and then when I turn the last page, I read it all again.”

Every time we publish an issue of Yankee, we’re a bit like scientists sending a probe into deep space, wondering whether we’ll hear a message come back one day. So when a note like the one from our Vermont reader arrives in my in-box, I forward it to all our writers and editors, our art team, and our digital team. It gives us the gift of connection.

In different ways, such gifted moments are all around us. We’ve even put a few of them inside this issue, beginning with a holiday visit to a close-knit Vermont village [“Christmas in Weston,” p. 22]. On the first Saturday of December, the townsfolk head downtown for a day of festivities that evoke a simpler time: horse-drawn wagon rides, caroling with friends and neighbors, and finding gifts and memories in a venerable country store.

Back in 1982, we wrote about a certain holiday cookie swap in Wellesley, Massachusetts, but didn’t have space to print all the recipes too. So we told readers to request them by mail, and then we made 100 copies or so, thinking that should be plenty. Instead, the requests did not stop until 20,000 envelopes had gone out—connections indeed! This year, senior food editor Amy Traverso paid homage to that Wellesley get-together by gathering accomplished food writers and bloggers for “a new twist on an old tradition” [“Cookie Swap,” p. 76] that just may spark something where you live.

This summer we saw the passing of former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall, who lived on the farm of his forebears in a little New Hampshire town. But he will always be with us in the thousands of words he gave to the world, including his unforgettable tale of being the designated Santa in his village [“The Man in the Red Flannel Suit,” p. 120]. I hope you will gather with family of any age to read aloud this small gift of lovely writing, which can be opened year after year.

Now, I need to say good-bye to a favorite page of so many. For more than 25 years, Edie Clark’s life unfolded in her Yankee columns, first “The Garden at Chesham Depot” and then “The View from Mary’s Farm.” But as I wrote in this space a year ago, Edie suffered a series of small strokes that made writing difficult and eventually forced her to leave her beloved New Hampshire homestead; she now lives in a nursing facility not far away. Over the past year, we have run “Mary’s Farm” columns from Edie’s archives, an appreciation for what she has meant to many, and this issue will mark the end [“December Babies,” p. 16]. Her writings continue to live on in her many books, however, as well as in UMass Amherst’s Special Collections and University Archives. And one more note: In the past several months, we have delivered more than 500 notes and cards from Yankee readers to Edie, and so many bring a smile. To keep the connection going, just write to Edie Clark, Yankee, 1121 Main St., Dublin, NH 03444.

Through each issue of Yankee, we continue to be part of a special community, all of us connected in some way by New England. That is a gift unto itself.

Mel Allen editor@yankeemagazine.com