It’s hard to believe that as I’m writing this, we have less than 10 days until Christmas, and a little more than two weeks until we usher in the New Year.

This year, I’m choosing to focus on the positives, and this year has been full of them. Spending time with great friends, cooking and sharing meals, enjoying a lot of live, local, and not-so-local music, hanging out on Rainbow Island, attending events and my favorite thing ever, meeting new people and seeing old friends along the way. This has truly been an epic year at Coastal Illustrated, with our overall redesign and introduction of Coastal Home. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to circling the sun with everyone for another great year.

Fortunately, I still love my job. My children and grandchildren are thriving, and I have a good, tight-knit circle of friends. For the first time in a long time, I remembered how to flirt — if y’all see me out, and I’m doing it wrong, please let me know — I’m relatively new at all this stuff once again. I adore my work colleagues, who always have my back and will bring food (or even a large computer monitor) to my house when I’m sick or injured.

I hope all of you had joyful years as well.

In this issue, we meet newcomer Jenn Agnew, who recently returned to the Golden Isles and is the new director of sales and marketing for the Brunswick News Publishing Co. In this Q&A, readers will learn a little about Jenn’s family, hobbies and interests when she’s off the clock, as well as what she is bringing to our table. Just across the page, we drop in on local Cindy Stephenson, whom everyone knows and loves. We’ll learn about her family, and what she likes to do when she’s not selling insurance at McGinty Gordon and Associates or serving folks at Tramici. Hint: It’s not rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Literary columnist Cary Knapp reviews Susan Straight’s newest novel, “In the Country of Women,” which tells a multi-generational, interracial story of love and resilience. Meanwhile, beverage columnist Jim Henderson has crafted some cocktails which would be ideal to serve at your holiday soiree. The Hot Toddy Cocktail, found on page 18, would be the ideal drink to sip whilst reading a good book in front of a cozy fire on a chilly winter evening.

Our feature is all about the spirit of Christmas, and was compiled by Cheri Leavy and intern Manning Mercer. Santa recently spent time with some local families. This feature is interactive, too. If you join us on Instagram, you can make your own “this or that” lists, share on your stories and tag us @coastalillustrated for a chance to win a restaurant gift certificate.

Our Captured pages are filled with folks you know having fun at Face 2 Face, an Elton John/Billy Joel tribute concert recently held on Rainbow Island, the elegance of the 2019 Plantation Ball and the good sportsmanship of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Golf Tournament. Check out for photos from the recent Jupiter Coyote appearance at Bubba Garcia’s.

As always, flip to page 19 for Cheri’s Shore Things, and get some great last-minute shopping ideas for men.

In Coastal Home, we introduce the first installment in our “First Families of Real Estate” series by talking to Pat Hodnett Cooper and her family, as well as Phoebe and Gene Hoaster. We discuss the ins and outs, and ups and downs of working with family in what can be a high-pressure environment. These two families take it all in stride.

Micki Carter, a Golden Isles native, is our featured Realtor. Micki talks about her love for real estate, which she inherited from her father, and how she would spend a free Saturday, if she had one. Our featured designer is Marla Melnyk, who sings the praises of her family, date nights with husband Butler, and her tendency to stay away from trends and focus on timeless, classic design themes.

Real estate reporter Gordon Jackson has tips for investment home buyers and gardening columnist Anne Ditmer provides a timely story on the history of everyone’s favorite Christmas flower, the poinsettia. The Home section ends, as always, with recent real estate transactions.

The holiday season is so full of love, light and joy, yet so fraught with emotional landmines and bittersweet memories. So, whether you’re trimming a tree and preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, lighting candles on a Menorah and celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over Syrian army, or observing another faith tradition, my prayer is that everyone has a happy, healthy, peaceful holiday season. This time of year always brings to mind a song my youth group sang years ago. Its opening line is “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to everyone. See ya next year.

Enjoy the issue.