Occasionally I find that I have gone for days without paying the least bit of attention to the world around me, simply because I’m tucked into my little nest I like to refer to as family. This week has been one of those weeks, so the following paragraphs will revolve mostly around things I have enjoyed doing.

I spent a day off-Island meeting with Santa’s elves coordinating gifts for last Tuesday night’s fire department party at which Warren Doty played a pivotal starring role. I spent an evening with the elves wrapping said gifts along with the tape dispensing, paper cutting and label pasting assistance of Ellen Biskis, David Norton, Donald Poole, George Szilassy, and Chris Smith. We dined on pizza hot out of the oven and a spread of crackers and cheese that Chef Norton whipped up. We chatted over slice-and-bake cookies for dessert while we critiqued wrapping skills and the odd collection of paper we have accumulated over the years. Thank you so very much to all the volunteers belonging to the Chilmark Firemen’s Association who choose to continue the long-standing traditions that make this town as unique as it is. Thank you to the parents who contributed snacks and sweets to share at one of Chilmark’s most social events of the season. And a yummy thanks to Scott McDowell for mulling the best hot apple cider this side of…hmm, apple country, I guess.

This past weekend was our annual trek to the North Pole via the Polar Express departing promptly at 5 pm out of Lincoln, N.H., aboard the Hobo Railroad. Along with Liz, Kevin, Solon, Barrett, Delilah and Hollis Oliver, Chris, Kendra, Oona and Emme Carroll, Julie Flanders, Bella Thorpe, Johna and Oisin McVey, the Carroll family caravanned to the longest candy counter in the world (measuring 111 feet found at Chutters Littleton, N.H.), dined by one of the coziest fireplaces in New England and sledded down some of the finest packed powder one can find in mid-December. The kids bonded over MadLibs, hot chocolate, snow on the cheeks, and far too many sweets.

The Chilmark Community Church has been decorated in preparation for Christmas and the Christmas Eve service. Friends, family, and neighbors are invited to attend tomorrow at 5:30. Bob Conway is greatly thanked for securing harpist Sandy Bitterman who will certainly enhance the traditional candlelight service of lessons and carols. The church community sends out big thanks to Don Sexton for mowing all summer; Powers Electric for installing a new plug in the front of the church and Community Corrections for raking and blowing leaves.

Exciting news from Will Flender rolled in via email a few days ago, the fourth edition of his book, “Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard,” is at the printers and should arrive on the Island sometime next week. So, anyone who might be looking for that perfect last-minute gift before Christmas should contact Vineyard Conservation Society at 693-9588 or visit their office at the Wakeman Center. Will doesn’t expect the book will arrive at other retailers until after Christmas. Eventually, the book will be available at the usual places, like Bunch of Grapes, Alley’s and Edgartown Books, to name a few.

The Menemsha Cafe has a few hour changes that need noting. They will be closed on Christmas Eve for dinner but still open for breakfast and lunch from 8 am to 2 pm. The same story holds true on New Year’s Eve. The hours after New Year’s will be Monday through Friday, 11am to 2 pm for lunch only, with Friday night suppers resuming sometime in January. Be sure to stop in during the day tomorrow for some holiday cheer including hot cider and eggnog and a few little gift giveaways, too.

Susan Larsen will hit the pavement once again in preparation for the 2011 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Boston on May 14 and 15. This particular walk will be extremely special since out of hundreds of applicants, Sue’s youngest daughter, Brigida, was selected to be a part of the 2011 Avon Walk Boston Youth Crew. This is a highly selective and competitive process with hundreds of applicants between the ages of 10 and 16. Brigida received the exciting news that she is one of 12 young teens who were chosen to participate as part of the 2011 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Boston Youth Crew. Brigida will be there at the opening and closing ceremonies and the rest stops along the two-day, 39-mile walk to cheer on the walkers and especially her mom. Congratulations Brigida, and you go Sue!

From our happy home

Through the world we roam

One week in all the year,

Making winter spring

With the joy we bring

For Christmas-tide is here.

— Louisa May Alcott