The population of Chappaquiddick island seemed to double during the Thanksgiving holiday. Though the long weekend began with a storm that disrupted ferry service to the Vineyard, the remaining days were mostly sunny even if they were a bit chilly. Former Chappy columnist Dorothy Knight returned to Blueberry Cottage to be on hand to oversee the Knight family Thanksgiving dinner.

Nancy Hugger of the Chappy open space committee reports that the dozen hikers who participated in the day after Thanksgiving hike across Chappy enjoyed glorious weather and felt very thankful for the public access to so many beautiful places.

The Chappy Community Center open house and craft sale last Saturday was well-attended and fun for all. The new 2014 CCC calendars went on sale. You can print an order form from the CCC website or stop in if you see Lynn’s car there.

Christmas is upon us. I want to give you plenty of lead time to prepare for the CCC Christmas eve dinner. All are welcome. We would love to have some new volunteers to make specific dishes. We have relied on the same people to provide their usual favorites for years, but now it‘s time to pass the torch along. We need everything from turkeys and hams to desserts. Anyone who is interested in making a particular dish, please call Lynn at 508-627-8222. She will be able to let you know what is still needed if you haven’t already decided what you want to bring.

The Slipaway Farmers reported that one morning during the recent cold snap, there was a skim of ice on the farm pond. The pond is quite shallow as well as shaded and will probably freeze to skating thickness before Brine’s Pond. We had some rousing ice hockey games last winter. There were some hair-raising moments as the jostling players dodged around the gracefully twirling figure skaters. Pimpneymouse Farm has donated its collection of hockey sticks. So I would be appreciative if at least some of you could switch from hoping for warm weather to wishing for cold.

I asked Kate O’Donnell and Chris Kennedy to keep me up to date on happenings at The Trustees of Reservations. They each wrote me a full-page essay so I will need to paraphrase. Even though deer hunting is not allowed on the Chappy TTOR properties, there will be active hunting on neighboring lands. Remember to wear bright colors, stick to the trails or roads and keep your dog on a leash. Beware that hunters may unknowingly stray onto TTOR land. Shotgun season runs through Dec. 14, while primitive firearms season continues to Dec. 31. If you have concerns or questions, please let a ranger know by calling 508-627-7689.

Erosion is back at Wasque. The “Day Before Thanksgiving Storm” blew out of the southeast, sweeping away a good portion of beach at Wasque, leaving a steep sand cliff as much as six feet high. This is a lovely place for a walk and to observe the ever-changing shoreline. The tip of Norton Point has formed a little cape that points directly at Chappy, steering the current against the bank where four feet of the upland has dropped off in just two weeks.

Looking for something to do with family or friends over the Christmas in Edgartown weekend of Dec.14 and 15? How about taking them on a Cape Pogue sleigh ride to the lighthouse? Warm blankets and warm non-alcoholic drinks will be supplied to chase off the chill. Call 508-693-7662 for further information and reservations.

East Beach has been host to six snowy owls this past week, along with merlins and red-tailed hawks. Just recently, buffleheads arrived on Pocha Pond and Cape Pogue Bay. If you drive out there remember that even in the off-season, stickers are required and tires must be deflated to 15 psi to preserve the beach trails.

The On Time III is close to being whole again as the last few items in her preventive maintenance and improvement program near completion. A few Chappaquiddickers have stopped by to have a look at her usually hidden underside, and to offer advice and encouragement. Our goal is to figure out how to fix things so that they will never need fixing again. Two years ago she didn’t get back into the water until January. I have to remind myself that when the On Time III was launched in 1976, she took over the full-time work from the On Time II, which was less than 10 years old at the time. Since then the On Time III has worked four to five times more hours than the On Time II. That’s why the harder-working ferry has needed 60 days of dry-docking rather than the 10 days that I had predicted. Everyone, travelers and crew alike, have to deal with the extra tension and frustration of depending on one small ferry. But I assure you that I am cautiously optimistic that, weather permitting, there is every likelihood that the On Time III might possibly, if we are very lucky and all goes perfectly, return sometime in mid December and service will be back to normal, barring anything unforeseen happening.

The December page of the 2013 CCC calendar is a photo of Santa Claus aboard the Chappy ferry taken by Annie Heywood two years ago. Santa always attends the Christmas parade riding on a fire truck. Word came down from on high that the Edgartown Fireman’s Association should be providing the Santa that year. I was drafted for the job since the majority of association members felt that I met the requirements for stature and attitude. I accepted and even got to wear a brand new Santa suit since there was evidence that the old suit had absorbed various flammable liquids during previous years.

We took our place in the lineup at the Edgartown School. Sitting high atop the fire truck waiting for the parade to start, I was practicing making jolly remarks when I noticed a rather tall and thin Santa striding across the parking lot towards me. He came to a halt just below me. We eyed each other suspiciously. My driver stood by uncharacteristically speechless. Being a celebrator of Hanukkah, the concept of adversarial Santas would have, of course, been unnerving for him. However, we two Santas, in the spirit of the season, quickly sorted things out. We realized that there had been a redundancy in Santa assignments and that the traditional Santa portrayer had actually been available all along. I offered to step down, but he insisted that I should not miss out on this chance to be a Christmas Parade Santa, assuring me that it would be a memorable experience. He was right! It was at once exhilarating and exhausting. When you’re dressed up as Santa, you are Santa every second with no time off. Kids of all ages shouted “Merry Christmas, Santa” to me and several gave me their wish lists. I ho-ho’d myself hoarse. When I saw my granddaughters in the crowd I called out to each by name. Even though they had been informed that I would be playing Santa Claus, I could see that they were taken aback. Their furrowed brows and intense quizzical stares gave way to broad smiles. At the finish of the parade we headed down to the Chappy ferry for a little joyride around the harbor and Annie caught us!