“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” is the opening line of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel which has a new movie version waiting for release this holiday season. But some Vineyarders are more worried about next Christmas, when it will be Christmas without any Chilmark Chocolates.

I am certainly among them.

Chilmark Chocolates are the most popular presents I give and I am often ordered not to appear at any family functions without them. And, of course, they have also been a present to me. After all, I was the one who drove all the way up to Chilmark from Edgartown to get my order, regretting the early days when Allison and Mary Beth would mail out the chocolates themselves. Then I would not have to wait in line to be tempted by the almond bark, the truffles (only dark chocolate), and Skip’s chips.

For 25 years, my Christmas list grew and grew. All those people from Edgartown to Palos Verdes, from Chicago to Pittsburgh and its greater western Pennsylvania environs are going to be so bereft. But we are just going to have to get over it, along with all the other customers who apparently feel the same way I do. The relationship is so personal. It is as if each person has a special tie to the little store with the tiny sign and the people who work there.

This relationship was so apparent on my last trip to the store. I thought that since my friend and I were going to get there at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5 that we would be golden, so to speak — no line, no parking issue, a chance to reminisce a bit. Not so. There was a line in the road, a line in front of the store, and a line in the store.

One would think that people would be hurried and frantic. There was a limit on how many pounds one could buy (five), and the trays of delights were being refilled at a faster than normal rate. Those truffles were going fast. But the line proceeded along as each customer received undivided attention from each one of the clerks. It was amazing. The ambiance of the whole operation was still intact. And of course that aura of kindness and attention is what we will all miss the most.

My own story is only one of many. The Christmas gifts are only the most obvious. The little boxes that appeared at the weddings of my two sons are a memory my whole family loves. But the best memory of all is the fact that Mary Beth and Allison share these memories, too.

My late son, Bob, worked for a short while after college for Vineyard Employment Options which sponsored job coaches for some of the Chilmark Chocolate employees. Mary Beth and Allison still remember him after over 25 years.

Bob, his wife Amy and their daughter Jane all returned to visit there when they came to the Island. The work Bob did there stood out in his mind as one of the qualities he wished to emulate.

I did not cry as Mary Beth recalled those days on my last visit, as others waited in line with their own stories. But it is a memory far deeper than the taste of that wonderful candy and one that will last forever.

Mary Jane Carpenter lives in Edgartown.