After reading John Rice’s Christmas tale, Alan Brouilette’s antidote to Christmas economizing and Tom Holmes reflections on Santa, advent and Hanukkah, I am only starting to get into the spirit of Christmas. It is less than a week away– I have been to several holiday parties, concerts; and letters and cards have been filling the mailbox. I am so late to the game, and haven’t even put up decorations yet.

Generosity and modesty were the hallmarks of my family’s Christmas growing up.  Christmas eve was always with my mom’s side of the family. The gifts wrapped in newspaper were from my grandfather, he saved the comics just for the kids, and the adults had the black and white newsprint. Christmas day was with my dad’s side of the family. My grandmother would hand knit mini stockings and place a single crisp 20 dollar bill inside each little sock and place them all over the tree. There was one sock for every grandchild, and I marveled at how my grandparents, who lived so humbly, would be able to give away so much money. 

Here in Forest Park today, our little town is all decked out. Madison Street has beautiful wreaths on street lights with little white lights, Constitution Court’s tree twinkles in the night and Roosevelt Road is proudly showcasing colorful lights on our newest saplings that will one day mature into majestic beauties. 

There is a shift slowly playing out in Forest Park. There is grief over the loss of gambling machines, the preparation of the end of two decades of leadership from Mayor Calderone, and deep sadness is felt across Proviso from the loss of two of our young Pirates.

Loss tends to reveal. Whenever a loss occurs (even if just a restaurant) there are some who just can’t help making harmful statements or revealing their past hurts with the intention of damaging others or businesses. There is nothing new to this, and those that are kind tend to be more respected and trustworthy. It is a definitive time in Forest Park and what our town looks and feels like in 20 years will have much to do with our mundane choices in our small interactions today.     

As our commissioner and mayoral candidates are becoming clearer, a new day is breaking. In Dan Novak’s letter to the editor last week he spoke about grounding our Village and preparing for its future. He spoke about our community foundations and seeking innovative opportunities to bring forth a future that is prosperous and whole.

For my little family, we are shifting into the teen years. So this year is the year of a magnificently simple Christmas. The time we spend together will be far more valued one day then all the buzz and commercial pageantry that Alan Brouilette talked about. This year there will be a few thoughtful gifts, a little decoration, and perhaps a little homemade village made of gingerbread.

Wishing you all the very best this holiday season.