Happy Holidays! As I sit here and write this column I am filled with excitement and joy for the holidays, ironically I am planted in front of my SAD light as Christmas music fills the air and my Christmas cactus is in full bloom. The holidays mean something different to everyone and I can certainly appreciate that, diversity always keeps it interesting. For me, the holidays start with Christmas music, decorating and gift buying. It’s been fun to experiment with Do-it-yourself (DIY) decorations such as wreaths made of burlap or stockings made by hand. This type of crafting activity reminds me of the things we’d do to prepare for the holidays and the joyous countdown to Christmas. In school we’d construct a chain out of red and green construction paper. Each link would represent a day on the journey to Christmas and each day we’d remove a link. We also would have a little calendar at home with windows that could be opened with a little piece of candy inside which my brother and I would share. And of course there was always writing letters to Santa.

The holidays also mean family, friends and the Holiday Cup Soccer Tournament. This sentiment is always sprinkled with parties, gifts and so many cheery activities.
Juggling all this can be stressful, and sometimes I find that this time of year with the extended darkness can bring out some less than stellar behavior in people. I certainly have to remind myself sometimes to practice patience and maintain a level head. After all, tis the season to show the best characteristics of yourself no matter how slow someone is driving in the left lane, or how long you are on hold with tech support trying to set up your new toy you got for Christmas. Please remind yourself that you don’t know what is going on in a stranger’s life or even the life of your peers sometimes. This is the season to be sincere and respectful, and for good measure throw in a dash of compassion.
Lastly, this month we celebrate New Years Eve which is also an exciting time. Reminiscing of the good times, saying goodbye to the bad and moving forward to a new year. For me, 2013 was a wonderful year full of activities and events. I got to travel a little bit around Southeast Alaska and Canada, participate in some great community and sporting events and so much more. I am excited to see what 2014 has to offer. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, Happy Holidays and I will see you in the New Year!
• Anna Hoke is the graphic designer and owner of Southeast Living Magazine. She can be reached at anna@seakliving.com.