The tide was halfway in the Hatea River as I drove to work this morning.

The waters of the Hatea have not been the only thing to ebb and flow ... commuter vehicles parked along Hatea Drive in Whangarei are starting to recede as many of us take advantage of time off over Christmas and New Year. Which doesn't mean that Northland's towns have been quiet - far from it.

The annual Christmas shopping rush looks set to continue tonight up to the last minute.

Looking back, I am tempted to observe that it's been a long year, but there were 365 days in it like most other years.


The two "short" weeks we are enjoying bring out the best and the worst in us.

Some find it invigorating, a salve to our stress. For others, the stress becomes too much and they take it out on others - it's a high risk time for domestic violence.

If I could package up a present for Northlanders it would be the gift of courage for all of us to say "no" to bullying and domestic violence.

Because it's not just the perpetrators that lurk in the shadows. Fear causes neighbours, family and friends to keep their thoughts in the dark too. It may be unusual to suggest a New Year's resolution on Christmas Eve, but perhaps in 2014 we could step out into the light - just a thought.

Merry Christmas.