Congratulations to two new American citizens who studied very hard and passed their tests: Joalson Cardoso who became a citizen on Oct. 23, and Ana Maria Cecilio who passed her test on Nov. 24. Both are pleased and proud and looking forward to voting in their first election. Welcome to the club!

I packed the truck and headed to my Old Country on Thanksgiving day, leaving the three dogs in the expert care of Bill and Debbie Little. On Friday, my friend Mark Zajackowski of Chicago, flew out to join us. Mark spent Saturday visiting his niece, Angela, who now lives and works in fashionable Williamsburg. They took in some sights in Manhattan, including eating at Tom’s on the upper West Side — you know it as Monk’s, the coffee shop from Seinfeld. On Sunday we took Iole to Spanish Mass, which is always so lively and has great music. Mark was determined to see 93-year-old Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar, play his set, as he does every Monday night at Iridium, a night club in New York city. We met up with Angela and her friends, Anne and David, entered the club, and had a grand time listening to this living legend play jazz guitar with his trio. A highlight of the set was the surprise arrival of Jon Paris, bluesman and harmonica player, who came over from the B.B. King club and played some favorites with the trio. Many audience members had brought their guitars to be autographed.

More culture cram went on Tuesday night. We met Angela at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center for the Tony-awarded revival of South Pacific, one of my favorite musicals. The cast, the staging, the direction, the sets — how perfect. I urge any of you who can to get to this musical.

Time is running out for you to participate in a project close to my heart: Holiday Mail for Heroes, brought to you by the Red Cross and Pitney Bowes. Send your holiday card to Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O.Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456 by Wednesday, Dec. 10. No enclosures or gifts, please. For a full list of guidelines, visit The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes will screen for hazardous materials, package the cards, and ship them to military bases, and to military and veterans hospitals. Thank you for your remembrance of our troops.

Don’t forget two fun annual events tomorrow: Holly Day at Grace church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where you can get lunch, gifts, and mingle with your friends. Our American Legion Auxiliary Bazaar, also beginning at 10 a.m. at Legion Hall on Martin road. Theme baskets, raffles, homemade goodies are available for your shopping pleasure.

Tough economic times require generous answers from those of us who can help. The Vineyard Committee on Hunger, Serving Hands, Family to Family, and Reliable Market are working together to let you donate $25 to sponsor one Island family’s Christmas dinner, turkey, side dishes, all the fixins’. Call Betty Burton, 508-693-5339 to ask how you can help.

The Mansion House is open to all for a flu clinic tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $30 and insurance is accepted. It’s a great chance to get vaccinated and get downtown to take a free horse and wagon ride with the kids!

Catch the comedy at Katharine Cornell Theatre at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night, a bumbling inspector with a hot murder case. French, with English subtitles.

Amnesty is a great word. From Nov. 11 until Dec. 13 our library is offering forgiveness on fines if you bring boxes or cans of non-perishable food. We could all use some forgiveness. Red Stocking drop-offs of new children’s books for infants to age 14, are also welcome as donations at our library.

In other library news, West Tisbury poet Dan Waters will speak and read his poetry at our evening lecture series on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. in the downstairs event room. Robin Tuck leads kids age 5 and up in a shadow puppet show, and the making of shadow puppets, on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. A free movie and popcorn is planned for Friday, Dec. 12 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for kids aged four and up.

The birthday bandwagon pulls along Mark Zajackowsi and Paresa Paiva today. Tomorrow belongs to Emily Diamond, Kevin Sullivan, Elise Thomas, and Robert MacKay, Sr. Dec. 7 is a party for Larry Bird, Rose Cogliano and Knara Mahtumova. Dec. 8 belongs to Janey Sobel and Pat Codding. Dec. 9 honors Christine Honig, Joe Hegarty, Rachael York and Joanne Gardella. Dec. 10 is for Issabel Walker and Eric Claussen. And on Dec. 11 Crystal Sylvia and twins Jackie and Carol Tileston take the cake. Many happy returns.