Just before Christmas, Mary Ambulos, while out for a stroll with pup Otis along Chilmark Pond, spotted 28 swans a-swimming. This must certainly have been some wonderful variation of the The Twelve Days of Christmas. Twenty-eight is divisible by the seven swans referenced in the song. If you ask Mary, this probably does have a glorious, cosmic and joyful meaning. Patricia Bacon took the lead in organizing the Chilmark School carolers this year. The tradition began some years ago with Nancy Leport facilitating the event along with yours truly. The weather was cooperative on Monday — not too cold for the little ones and just gray enough to feel like winter — for a rather large assemblage of beautiful voices, smiling faces, jingles and bells. Patricia Bacon and her three boys Atlas, Sam and Fletcher Zack were in the mix along with Kaky, Adam, Peter and William Miller, Josh; Lindsey, Tristan and Charlotte Scott; Jessica Benjamin and her boys Silas and Axel Abrams; Chris Carroll and Kendra Buresch along with their girls Oona and Emme; Rebekah and Joshua Thomson and their wee ones Leah, Moses and Taeko Rose; Hunter Broderick, Amanda Fenner with her two Tegan and Laila; Molly, Noah and Jakie Glasgow; Adrian, Meg, Latham and Hayden Higgins; Fynn and Yossi Monahan; Emmett Taylor, Molly Purves and her son Rodeo Langer. I am hopeful that I didn’t leave anyone off the list of participants who happily indulged in cocoa and donuts after their revelry, which literally could be heard across the center of town.

Michael Broderick and Mary McConneloug have taken a brief hiatus from mountain bike racing and have rolled into town for a much-needed catch up with family and friends. One can only go so long without a romp with nephews Hunter, Duke and Zeke Broderick.

Margaret Maida’s Crossroad home was filled with holiday spirit when granddaughter Mattie came to visit. Margaret and Mattie always have such fun together. I spotted them out and about with smiles from ear to ear. Mattie touches base with cousins Zachary and Cody Coutinho whenever she is in town. We all know a little good-natured family ribbing is needed from time to time.

Scott and Jennifer Frank along with their three children Sophia, Lukas and Stella are at their Sheep Hill Road home for the holidays. It’s not often all three children are under the same roof, so this certainly is a treat for mom and dad. Goodness, I almost forgot, sweet pup McCoy is center stage in the fun-filled mix. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Simon and Zoe (Pechter) Thompson who have moved into their new house. I am excited for you to settle in and make it a home. Good news — Carl and Sherry (Murphy) Flanders’s granddaughter Violet is on the mend. Daughter of Carl and Becca and little sister to Scarlet had a nasty case of pneumonia that landed her in the pediatric intensive care unit at Washington, D.C.’s Children’s Hospital. All are thankful that the babe is home in Maryland surrounded by loving family.

I checked my email the other day and up popped a name that I typically associate with summer in Menemsha. I had a shout out from Howie and Barbara Gold. Apparently they hold a new title: great-grandparents. The crew from Coast Guard Station Menemsha had the opportunity to get underway and perform practice drills with Cutter Tybee out of Woods Hole. Spencer Thigpen, Joe Queen, Jerry Tingle, Johnathon Goeckel and more enjoyed the relatively calm seas for their training.

The news of college acceptances for our current high school seniors has begun to trickle in. These things really begin rolling in at this time of year, so the tally has likely changed by now. Since we last spoke, Peter Ruimerman had been accepted at Worcester Polytechnic University. Andrew Ruimerman received acceptance letters from both Emmanuel College and Fordham University. Brigida Larsen received an acceptance letter from her mother Susan’s alma mater Regis College. Having experienced this process through my daughter just one year ago, I know full well that it is such a relief the receive that first “we want you” in the mail. Congratulations to you all. May the world open up so that you have the ability to dream big and make your dreams come true.

In less than a week the world will ring in a new year. Some folks pull out all the stops and adorn themselves in glitzy fashion, toot horns, wear crowns and dance the night away. Others pride themselves on quietly preserving family traditions — a house full of friends playing parlor games by a crackling fire, midnight walks by candlelight or a simple dinner out at a favorite eatery.

Here in Chilmark is where I plan to be. Some longstanding traditions are found in familiar homes. Consuming black-eyed peas and ham hocks can be found at the Carrolls. Candlelit strolls with friends and family at the Keenes. Bid whist until the wee hours of the morning at the Flanders.

Whatever you choose to do, bear these thoughts in mind: New Year’s Day is a fresh start. It is a new chapter in life just waiting to be written. It is an opportunity to discover what is behind that unopened door. Embrace those you love. Discover new things. Dream big. Pay it forward. Live life joyfully.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin: Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. 

Send your Chilmark news to: squidrow@vineyard.net