Sorry about not showing up last week. Miscommunication in the digital age at its best. My mind was elsewhere, and though I wrote the column, I didn’t get it to them in time. So here is an edited and updated version that is more current.

By the time you read this, Christmas will have come and gone, but as I write it, it’s still six days away. I’m sure it will be wonderful and special, but I feel like it snuck up on me, and I’m missing the magic of the season. I better take advantage of the next six days.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or winter solstice this past week. Please share any stories for me for next week’s column.

Bragging rights! After a year of starts and stops, my son, Riley Craig, took his oath this morning, swearing in to the U.S. Marine Corps. He shipped out to Parris Island, S.C., shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, and will spend the next 13 weeks there training with his fellow recruits. Often when my kids do something I deem great, I use the phrase “I’m quietly proud.” But in this instance, I am way past quietly proud. This had been a dream for my boy since he was 4 years old. He enlisted in the delayed entry program last Dec. 28, and was originally scheduled to leave last March. But following an injury while training with his fellow poolees, he was delayed several months, which turned into several more months. I’m terribly proud, but I miss him already, knowing that I can’t talk to him for 13 weeks. I’ve already called his voicemail once just to hear his voice. And I found myself looking for his car in his usual haunts this evening. The hardest part is no phone calls while he’s in boot camp. We have to go old school, with letters via snail mail. I’m dropping my first one in the mail tomorrow. Christmas will be weird this year, for sure. Semper Fi.

Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha’s Vineyard has been awarded a $30,000 TernSolar challenge grant from the Tern Foundation to install a second array of solar panels on its new Equipment Barn roof, supporting the sanctuary’s goal to achieve net zero energy consumption. For over 50 years, Felix Neck has been at the heart of the Island’s conservation and education movement, sharing nature and raising generations of environmental stewards. Recent activities have included greening the facility and operations with a renewed focus on climate education initiatives for youth and adults. In 2008, Felix Neck installed its first solar panels to reduce the sanctuary’s reliance on energy from fossil fuels. The TernSolar challenge grant provides an opportunity to install a second set of panels, bringing the sanctuary closer to net zero, and allowing the facility to be an example and inspiration to younger generations and the community it serves. In order to receive the funding from Tern Foundation, Felix Neck must raise a matching $30,000, which will be earmarked to support its climate education activities. Suzan Bellincampi, sanctuary director, explains the outreach focus of the Felix Neck climate education initiatives: “Last spring, 200 students came to Felix Neck for a Youth Climate Summit, to learn from experts and from each other. The event resulted in making important connections to work toward combating climate change and its effects. To enhance the program, we also host our community Climate Cafés to talk about local and global issues and opportunities. Last year, another 200 people attended, continuing to bring people together to offer ideas, resources, and solutions. The TernSolar challenge grant is an opportunity to not only fund the new solar array, but also invites our community to help support these vibrant programs.” For information about Felix Neck’s Youth Climate Initiatives, the Tern Foundation’s TernSolar Challenge Grant, or Felix Neck’s solar installations, go to massaudubon.org/felixneckforever or contact Suzan Bellincampi at sbellincampi@massaudubon.org or 508-627-4850.

In other Felix Neck news, the sanctuary is marking the 50th anniversary of its establishment as a wildlife sanctuary with a series of celebratory events that began in December and extend through November 2020. For its anniversary year, Felix Neck is looking to secure its work for the next half-century and beyond. To accomplish this, they are embarking on a new Felix Neck Forever Fund, a capacity-building initiative to ensure that Felix Neck is here for our children and our grandchildren.

A number of special 50th anniversary events are planned to commemorate Felix Neck and secure its future: potlucks, a supper, a 5K Foot It for Felix, an Amity Shark Race with wooden shark fins, and a fall festival in the fall of 2020.

The yearlong celebration and events will help provide support and maintain long-term staffing, greening of the Felix Neck facilities, expand climate education initiatives, and offer access to all to Felix Neck properties and programs. For more information on Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary and the 50th anniversary events at Felix Neck, visit massaudubon.org/felixneck.

Pam Glavin called to share that Carl Widdiss’ Magical Christmas tree will be at his gravesite. Everyone is welcome to visit it throughout the winter and hang an ornament or decoration on the tree, while making a secret promise to perform one act of kindness during this season. Carl always believed in doing for others and performing random acts of kindness, so the family has begun the tradition of this tree to honor his memory, and believe in “paying it forward.” The tree is at his burial site at the Aquinnah cemetery. 

Happy birthday wishes for the last two weeks go out to Alex Vasilidadis on Dec. 16, Brenda Perry and Claire Crowell on Dec. 21, Fran Agnoli on Dec. 22, Kelly Hess on Dec. 23, and Christy Edwards on Dec. 24.

That’s all for this week. I wish you all a calm, relaxing, and joyous rest of the holiday season.