Community Baptist Church of Gay Head will be observing their very inspirational Candlelight Service at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Special music will be performed by members of the congregation. The candlelight service will be conducted by Rev. Roger H. Spinney, and we will look forward to singing Christmas Carols accompanied by our organist Mrs. Kathryn B. Stewart.

The annual Aquinnah holiday party will be held at the Wampanoag Tribal Building on Black Brook Road on Saturday, Dec. 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. All Aquinnah residents, Aquinnah employees and volunteers are cordially invited to attend. Santa Claus will arrive by his usual means while guided by those wild deer in Aquinnah. There will be special treats for all. The evening will be a potluck gathering with the roast turkey and ham provided by the town of Aquinnah and the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe. Beverages will also be provided. Please bring your favorite holiday dish to share with those at your table.

Like a gentle reminder as we head into the holiday season, the temperatures dipped into the teens over the weekend. It was devastating to find more than a million people without electricity from New York to most of New England. On Monday afternoon, we enjoyed 60 degree weather and by Tuesday evening as the temperatures fell below freezing, we experienced a gentle snowfall.

May one and all have a very happy holiday season. Whether celebrating a merry Christmas or whatever our religious preference may be, please be mindful of those less fortunate at this time of year or throughout the year with random acts of kindness.

The Aquinnah Public Library was alive with many people attending the open house on Saturday. The sunshine pouring through the windows enhanced the warmth of the day. Everyone was delighted to return their books and other materials and to make their new selections. A few caught up with their e-mails on the computers, while the toddlers enjoyed the freedom of running around, some in their socks and some barefoot. It was a grand day for one and all. The hot cider and gingerbread men were great as were Marianne Neill’s scones. People arrived from all the up-Island towns to join in the festivities. The old Gay Head Town Hall has already demonstrated the necessity for a much larger library for our community. It will be a topic for discussion over the winter as it was over the weekend.

Saturday Story and Art Times will begin at the library on Dec. 20 from 11 a.m. to noon, for children ages five and up. Younger children with parental participation are invited to attend. Everyone who began to create a bird in the last weeks at the old library, please return now to finish it. Everyone will be completing their papier maché on Dec. 20 and 27, 2008. In January, you can start to paint and decorate. They are going to be beautiful birds! Children will also read stories about flight, birds, migration and travel.

Welcome home to our chief F. Ryan Malonson who arrived on Tuesday evening following his orthopaedic surgery in August and the resultant rehabilitation for the past four months at the Boston Center in Roslindale. Reverend Spinney drove to Roslindale to bring Ryan on his journey home. Bettina Malonson Washington entertained one and all with a dinner party in honor of our chief on Wednesday evening.

Joseph and Faith Corbo are looking forward to the holiday and will have their home filled to the brim with family for the holidays. They will have the entire group here for Christmas at their Sandcastle Lane home overlooking Vineyard Sound. Nicole, their youngest, is a special education major at the University of Hawaii and is flying in this week. Joseph Jr., a science teacher at Island School on Kauai, and daughter Erin, an English teacher at Ransom Everglades in Coconut Grove, Fla., will both arrive on Dec. 22. The Corbo family is especially looking forward to their most revered and special guest, Faith’s father and the grandfather to Nicole, Joseph Jr., and Erin, Mr. Manning Harvey, Jr. Mr. Harvey is 85-years-old, a World War II veteran, former football coach for 25 years in Stratford, Conn., and will be playing his traditional special Santa role at the Corbo’s. He will be accompanied by his friend Kathleen Blood from Hillsborough, N.H. to join in the festivities.

Walter and Nancy Delaney are looking forward to the arrival of their daughter Gayle, her husband Andrew and especially their grandson Raymond for the Christmas holiday. Nancy continues with her medical care as an out-patient at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. In the meantime, she continues to keep up with her duties as a library trustee.

Two-year-olds Noah James Manning and Oona Buresch Carroll enjoyed the magic of the Evening of Enchantment at Donaroma’s on Friday evening with their parents Paul and Theresa and Chris and Kendra. They also visited with Santa on his visit to the Offshore Ale and informed him of their very special requests.

Get well wishes to Philip J. Moreis, Jr., son of Philip Sr. and Victoria (Maciel), who has been ill at home for the past two weeks. He will look forward to returning to school in the New Year.

Matthew Scott, son of Frank and Linda, has arrived home for his holiday visit and midwinter break from his sophomore year studies at Dartmouth College.

And, what were we doing in Gay Head during Christmas of 1954? Most of the performance I remember vividly and somewhere in my archives I still have the mitten-shaped programs passed out during the play. Of course I remember making the decorations for the Gay Head Town Hall. Our pledge of allegiance to the flag was part of our morning ceremony as we raised the flag in the school yard each day. From the Vineyard Gazette archives:

“The Gay Head School presented on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24, 1954) a Christmas play. The welcome by Marcia Perry was followed by the pledge to the flag and the Star Spangled Banner by the entire audience. In the play, The My-Size Doll, the announcer was Marcia Perry; Josie, who wants the my-size doll, Kristina Kestenbaum; Nance, her sister, Natalie Francis; her mother, June Manning; her father, Robert Hindley; Santa, Elmer Vanderhoop; Santa’s helpers, Kenneth Belain, Eugene Francis, and William Kestenbaum; the my-size doll, Judith Manning; Betsy, Norma Belain; Helen, Eleanor Francis; Bobb, Jeffrey Madison; Carol was Ronald Francis. In conclusion the Gay Head School chorus sang A Visit From St. Nick, led by the teacher, Miss June Noble.”

And so, the old Gay Head Town Hall was alive with music in 1954 as it has been so often over the past 80 years. As for the young cast who were then in grades one through six — they have become adults of course and each with a lot of character as we go about our daily intriguing lives in 2008. We have sadly lost Marsha Perry, Robert Hindley, Kenneth James Belain, Eugene Francis, and Ronald Francis. Nine of us are still around, all Tribal Elders, grandparents and great grandparents. Our former teacher June Noble keeps up with our lives and successes each week by reading her Vineyard Gazette.

The Intergenerational Program between the Chilmark School and Windemere Nursing and Rehab, has put together a beautiful calendar. The students in Jack Regan’s second/third grade class have been visiting their Windemere buddies for four years. Windemere received a grant from the Permanent Endowment Fund to purchase cameras for the students. The students have taken photographs of their lives and share them with their buddies. The calendar shows the students with their buddies as well as the photographs that have been taken over the past four years. The calendars are for sale at the Chilmark School, Windemere Recreation Department, Chilmark Chocolates, and Peacecraft. For further information, please call Betsy Burmeister at Windemere 508-696-6465, extension 722. Betsy would like to thank one and all for their support of this vital program.

Happy anniversary wishes to Walter and Nancy Delaney as they observe their special day on Dec. 23.

Happy birthday wishes this week to Injy Farat Lew as she celebrates today. Claus Maple Smith, son of Noni and Jed Smith, will be observing his first birthday on Dec. 20. Molly A. Fischer will be 15 on the 21st.

A very special happy birthday wish to my daughter in law Theresa A. Manning as she celebrates on Dec. 22.

Gabi Vanderhoop, who reads my column each week from her home in Nevada, will party on Dec. 23. A special birthday wish to Ollie Edwards as she celebrates a major milestone on Dec. 24. Christina R. Montoya will party on Christmas Day.