Since 1951, Christmas at Tinkhamtown Chapel has been a Mattapoisett tradition. At first, a service was held on Christmas Eve, a format that endured until about 30 years ago when it was moved to the Saturday before Christmas. For the last few years, the chapel has hosted an annual carol sing-along for the community.
The carol sing, which happened on Saturday, December 22, attracted scores of people from around town, so many that there was standing-room only by the start of the service.
“It’s a team effort,” said organist and co-organizer Gail Roberts. The chapel is named for her family, the Tinkhams.
“My uncle Howard is the care-taker. He helps decorate the chapel, he lights the gas lamps,” she said.
Roberts has been attending the Christmas service since she was a child and the memories are still vivid in her mind.
“Ahh, the smell of kerosene and wood fires. It reminds me of Christmas,” she said.
Growing up, her grandmother was the chapel organist, a position that Roberts inherited many years ago. She led the group in singing a variety of traditional carols and hymns like “Silent Night” and “Deck The Hall.” Young children were also invited up to the altar so they could lead the crowd in singing “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells.”
“I’ve always loved this for as long as I can remember. It’s special because you don’t see traditions like this very often anymore, but here, it’s strong,” said Roberts.
By Eric Tripoli