Well, all is nearly prepared in most homes for Christmas on Tuesday. However, there is still time for a tiny amount of last minute shopping. Reliable Market is busy making fruit baskets for last minute gifts. Peter Simon’s yearly Vineyard calendar masterpiece makes a swell gift. The Holiday Shop in Vineyard Haven has a nice selection. After a month of shopping and a lot of decorating, inside and out, families will soon begin to gather together to celebrate this most blessed day. The boats were packed with people going to and from the mainland to shop for Christmas last weekend. Also, some folks got ahead to start traveling off-Island for the holiday to be with their families.

We are now officially into the winter season as of today — here is hoping it will be as mild as last year. We now have reached the shortest day of the year, and soon they will be starting to get a tiny bit longer each day. Seed catalogs have begun to arrive in the mail, so you can start planning your garden after the holidays.

Malcolm Hall, his wife, Judy, and family, of Oklahoma City, Okla. wish all their Vineyard friends a very happy holiday season. Malcolm will be starting his okra seeds as soon as he cleans up after a house full of family and guests. Their daughter Emily will be flying out to join them for the holiday season.

Shopping has been difficult at best, however we are managing. If you are in the Providence area and have Portuguese blood you must make a pilgrimage to the Taunton street Bakery in East Providence — truly a delightful experience. Their orange cake is a specialty at this time of the year and it is out of this world!

We went up to Taunton Friday to visit grandson Robbie and his family. Nicole and Robbie took me up to Providence to be fitted for a boot for my cranky left ankle. All went well, but my shopping time was cut short because Robbie suddenly tired of riding in the car.

When Anna and I arrived at Antonio’s in New Bedford, the gravity of the horrible news we had been listening to over the radio became self-evident to me. When we went in to order takeout food, I was amazed to find people standing three rows deep at the bar watching the large screen televisions. The program displayed was not the usual sports programming, but the breaking news from Newtown, Conn. and the place seemed quieter given the number of people in the room. One man holding his beer was standing there, his mouth ajar, shaking his head in disbelief on what was being reported — kind of said it all for many of us. On Cogshall street, and on the return trip home, I noticed parents holding onto their children’s hands perhaps a little tighter than yesterday. Holiday shopping for most everyone had suddenly taken a back seat.

Will Whiting, of State Road, will be traveling out to Marion, Ohio to visit his grandparents, Bill and Betty Glimpse, and his mother, Pat, for Christmas. Will returns home after the New Year.

Bob Luskin, of Atlanta, Ga., reports that his wife, Charlotte Fallon, recently went up to New York city to bring her daughter Miranda home for the holidays. His son Cass and stepdaughter Nathalie are stressed about exams. Son Peter is heading home from Afghanistan for a few days for Christmas, and Charlotte is just fine and missing the Vineyard. They wish their Vineyard friends all the best for the holidays and good wishes for the New Year.

Sal Laterra arrived last Thursday to visit Phyllis Meras at her Music street home. Sal left yesterday to fly down south to be with his children for Christmas and return for the New Year.

Kathy Chaves Verner hosted a party for her parents, Frank and Celeste Polagruto, Sunday night. It marked their one-year anniversary of moving to the Vineyard. Frank reports that it was a wonderful family affair and everyone had a swell time.

Kim Johnson, over at the church, reports that you may choose to attend one of the two church services offered by the First Congregational Church on Monday evening. Music begins at 4:30 p.m., and at 5 p.m. the Annual Children’s Pageant will be held at the agricultural hall. Following the pageant, an invitation is extended to those who would like to attend the traditional candlelight worship service in the church at 10 p.m. All are welcome.

The 34th annual Solstice Party held by Katherine Long and the Jacksons was a huge success as always. The wide array of people that attended was very impressive, the conversation was delightful and the food prepared by many chefs was nothing short of superb. A good time was had by all.

Dana and Lori Rezendes, of Aspen Way, will be having a special Christmas this year as they will be celebrating it with their son Nathan John who was born in August. My daughter Nicole and her husband, Arsen Hambardzumian, of East Taunton will be doing the same with their son Robert John who was born in January. Merry Christmas!

The library held a groundbreaking ceremony last Wednesday and despite the chilly temperature about 100 people attended the event. It is expected that the renovation project will take up to a year to complete.

Happy birthday to: Cathy Weiss, Alex Goethals, Emma Conley and Fausta Edey today; to Barbara Silk and Carrol Brown tomorrow; to Faith Runner, Cecelia McCarthy, Mark Clements, Wendy Gray, Dr. Caroline Flyer and Omar Rayyan on Sunday; to Ann Howes, Holly Coyne, Marg Luening and Gabriel Robinson-Lynch on Monday; to Steve Vages, Christina Montoya and Michael MacLean on Tuesday; to Glenn Jackson, Charles Lewis and Rachel Baumrin on Wednesday; to Claudia Lee, Eleanor Luce, Mary Gross and Mark Bernard on Thursday. Belated birthday greetings to Lynne Demond and Deborah Pigeon, 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 email me. We want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.