Winter officially begins tomorrow, but you wouldn’t know judging from the ice, rain and downright cold weather we’ve already had. Sunday’s temperature jumped from 31 in the morning to 50 in the afternoon, back to 33 degrees at nightfall. Also, Steamship Authority service was interrupted on Sunday and on the early boats Monday. Strong winds combined with the falling temperature made life difficult.

Tomorrow will be the shortest day of the year. But we must think positively — the days will be getting a tiny bit longer starting on Monday and seed catalogs have begun to arrive in the mail.

All is pretty much prepared in most homes for Christmas on Tuesday. After a month of shopping and a lot of decorating, inside and out, families will be gathering together to celebrate this most blessed day. Relax — there is still time for last-minute gifts. Reliable Market is busy making gift fruit baskets, and Cherilla Brown over at Alley’s Store will help you with gifts and stocking stuffers. The store will be open till 9 this evening offering free gift wrapping, hot cider and a special visit from Santa Claus.

You may chose to attend one of the three church services Monday evening offered by the Rev. Charles Terry Newberry at the First Congregational Church. At 5 p.m., the Children’s Pageant will be held at the agricultural hall. Following the pageant, an invitation is extended to those who would like to attend a traditional candlelight worship service led by ReverendNewberry in the church. The first of two services will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the second begins at 10 p.m. All arewelcome. 

The boats were packed last weekend with people going to the mainland to shop for Christmas. Again today, some folks got started traveling off-Island for the holiday to be with their families.

The 28th Annual Solstice Party will be held Sunday afternoon at the home of Tom Vogl and Katherine Long on Scotchman’s Lane. Their party is always the highlight of the holiday season.

Will and Leslei Monast of Waldron’s Bottom Road drove to Philadelphia last weekend to pick up son Cal. They then went to Wheaton College to collect daughter Sarah and bring them home for the holidays. Cal and Sarah will join brother Beau and sister Raine for the holidays. The family will cut a tree on Cuttyhunk and put it up on Tuesday.

Sam Alley arrived home yesterday from his studies at Framingham State College. So did Spike Currier and Justin Kellerher to be with their parents..

Marian Irving of Old County Road proudly reports the director of the film The Water Horse, Jay Russell, is her nephew. It comes out Christmas Day. The Hollywood Reporter review proclaims it a quality family film and a welcome addition to the holiday season.

A memorial service was held for Nancy Whiting this past Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven. It was well attended by family and friends. A reception was held at the Davis House immediately afterward. Among those coming to attend the service were her granddaughters: Lucy Morse of Chatham, N.J., Darcy of Seattle, Wash., and Becky of Providence, R.I. They were pleased to visit with so many old friends and catch up with the local gossip. They extend their best for a happy holiday season to all.

Martha Schmidt of Seven Gates Farm reports that Diane Smith, who is currently in Kenya, Africa, working at an Episcopal hospital, is due back on the Island on Christmas Day. Martha and all of the folks on the farm will be happy to see her back. She works in the farm office.

Martha also reports they had an early Christmas this year as their son Will, his wife Katie and their children Eleanor, Peter and Winifred came to visit from Dorking, Surrey, England.

Linda Baughman of Philadelphia and Music street has returned from a trip to India that was wonderful. So much to see: the Amber Fort and the Taj Mahal, the Palace of the Wind, Jaipur the pink city, Jodhpur the blue city, the desert palace of Rohet Garth where she was welcomed by the maharaja himself, the serene Sikh temple and the lotus-shaped Baha’i temple in Dehli. She will be bringing along pictures to share with her Vineyard friends on her next visit. In the meantime she wishes everyone a happy holiday season.

Tomorrow night the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven will host a book signing for travel writer and author Phyllis Meras, who will be signing copies of her last book, The Historic Shops and Restaurants of Boston: A Guide to the Century-Old Establishments of the City. Susan Whiting and Barbara Pesch will be on hand to sign Vineyard Birds II, and Peter Simon will be autographing his famous calendar, the special 20th anniversary edition.

Gloria Sylva reports that school will be dismissed for the holiday recess today at noon. School resumes Jan. 2.

On Dec. 22, 1949, the school presented its Christmas program the same afternoon school closed for the holidays. As the school was without heat due to an electrical failure, the exercise was held in the agricultural hall. The play Mother Goose Land was presented by students Joan Merry, Walter Vincent, Alice Churchill, Virginia Bardwell, Winifred Alley, Peggy Scott, Rita Alley, Constance Morrow, Meg Wilkinson, John Alley, George Churchill, Shirley Burt, Margaret Duquette, Dixon Rogers, Robin Elwell and Veronica Kelly. Christmas carols were sung by the entire school and recitations given by the students. Miss Helen R. O’Donnell, teacher for all four grades, directed the program with the assistance of Lydia Drew. Refreshments were served by the Parent Teacher Association.  

Happy birthday to Emma Conley, Cathy Weiss, Alexander Goethals, and Fausta Edey today; Taylor Rasmussen and Carroll Brown tomorrow; Faith Runner, Wendy Gray and Cecilia McCarthy on Sunday; Ann Howes, Fred Thurber, Marg Luening and Carrie Scheller on Monday; Michael Maclean and Christina Montoya on Tuesday; Rachel Baumrin, Duncan Meyst and Glen Jackson on Wednesday; and Mary Gross, Claudia Lee, Stacey Trevino, Mike Ovios, Eleanor Luce and Lucas Tsikitas on Thursday. Belated birthday greetings to Lynne Demond and anniversary wishes to Bob Bunch and Sandra Polleys.

Well, that is all of the social news for this edition. If you have any news about the holidays and guests at your house, please call or e-mail me. I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.