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My parents are looking down from heaven and chuckling. Before “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and Clark Griswold were even glimmers in the eyes of its creators, there was Norman Kessel who thought there was no such thing as being too over-the-top for Christmas. My PaPa (my Dad’s dad) regularly won our hometown newspaper’s prize for best Christmas lights. My dad, an accountant by day, was a carpenter, lighting technician and fixer-of-all-things when he wasn’t at work. Our front yard was bathed in light – and not those little twinkling white lights either. We loved the big, brightly colored 1950s-era lights. Dad lovingly die-cut and painted a trio of carolers, the Nativity, and Santa and his reindeer, which were all spotlit on our front lawn. Was it a little tacky? Sure, but if there’s a holiday where one can go overboard, it’s definitely Christmas. Fast-forward to 2021. The only thing I’ve managed to do is hang a wreath.

The features in this issue certainly underscore the fact that Christmas is a much-loved and enthusiastically celebrated holiday.

In the Coastal Illustrated feature we meet Dana and Mark Watkins and their adult daughters, Hailey, Hannah and Hollyn. The Watkins family loves Christmas and has developed a number of significant (and some silly) traditions over the years. You’ll enjoy reading about this fun family and their holiday adventures.

In the Coastal Home feature, take a tour through our Festival of Trees. We talk with five local families about their tree-decorating customs and what ornaments on their trees are sentimental to them.

Jennifer Daniel is the subject of our Local Q+A. Jennifer owns Polished Peyton, and as an etiquette instructor, teaches people – from children to adults – to mind their Ps and Qs. She also talks about how much fun she and her girls have on St. Simons Island during their spare time.

In our Realtor Q+A, we get acquainted with Jennifer Robinson, who is a busy wife and mother of four, in addition to practicing real estate and being a mortgage loan officer. She gives advice to potential buyers and talks about what her family enjoys doing when they’re not at work or school.

Reporter Gordon Jackson looks at ways to provide a safe, well-lighted entryway, in this issue’s Real Estate Report.

Your calendar might not be set to “margarita,” but food and beverage columnist Jim Henderson has found a recipe for a frosty, festive concoction that’s sure to please. And don’t forget to try the brie bites – you’ll find them online at coastalillustrated.com.

Literary columnist Cary Knapp reviews Ann Patchett’s latest. A memoir, “These Precious Days” contains essays in which she ponders on many important things – friendship, family, bookstores, dogs and even death.

Anne Ditmer, our horticulture columnist, celebrates the season and its plants. She recounts the legend of Pepita, a Mexican girl who wanted to bring a gift to the Christ child, but who had nothing to offer but weeds from a field. Miraculously, when she placed her meager offering at the bottom of the Nativity scene, the weeds burst into bright red flowers.

We have three Captured events in this issue – A Merry Mixer to benefit the Elizabeth F. Correll Teen Center of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia; Holiday Bedlam, to benefit Operation Bed Spread and finally, Golden Isles Live! which recently resumed its concerts after an almost two-year pandemic-imposed hiatus.

In Cheri’s Shore Things, Cheri takes readers on a tour of her favorite things, from gourmet macaroni and cheese to Christmas Eve dinner at Bennie’s Red Barn, with some fun stops in between.

As Christmas draws nigh, I would like to personally express my love and appreciation to all of our team at Coastal Illustrated + Coastal Home, and our readers and advertisers who make this job of mine an absolute joy. My wish for you is to be at peace with yourself and others, and to share kindness with everyone who crosses your path. Enjoy the issue. Merry Christmas!