The news headlines have been grim and the weather is dismal. We need to counteract this gloom and doom with some warm thoughts.

Today is Inauguration Day, Jan. 20! A new beginning. Another chance for our federal government to get it together. Like our last Inauguration Day, we’re pulling for a new president to succeed.

We also have a new beginning in Illinois politics. Chris Welch becomes the first Black Speaker of the House. Regardless of what you think of Welch, he is not Mike Madigan and has long been a friend to Forest Park.

Vaccines will be distributed and restaurants will re-open. Last week, I ran into friends at a Madison Street pub and had the first “normal” Saturday night since the pandemic began.

We have to guard against emotional exhaustion during stressful times like these. We need to take walks, reach out to friends — actually I’m too tired to finish this sentence.

To keep our sanity, we must focus on the present. We can’t dwell on past mistakes, or see the future as an endless ordeal. I need something to look forward to, like my second nap.

Being home together 24/7 for 10 months has put a strain on our domestic relationships. In other words, I get the living room next.

As you’re pulling on your heavy gloves to shovel, think back to the midsummer softball tournament where no one wears gloves and everyone has to try a steak taco.

When you’re cursing the early-evening darkness, think of the people who live their lives in darkness and how Hines VA teaches the blind to navigate our streets.

If you read about how Forest Park has one of the worst nursing homes in the country, think of the Forest Park families who treat their aged relatives with dignity and make sure they enjoy their final years at home.

Is the west wind painfully freezing your brain? You might experience these same symptoms this summer at Brown Cow, but at least it will be self-induced.

Tired of politicians calling and solicitors ringing? Remember the time the doorbell rang and your neighbor brought over brownies that were still warm.

While you’re scraping the ice off your windshield, imagine you’re scraping off the backyard grill after barbequing chicken.

When you’re bundling up in layers of clothing, think of the day you’ll be able to wear only one layer while walking to the pool.

If the sun does decide to peek out, keep your gaze above the tree line and you can pretend it’s July.

While you’re sprinkling salt on the sidewalk, keep in mind it won’t be long before we’re sprinkling grass seed on the lawn.

Sure, we miss our neighbors during the winter but what could be more comforting on a snowy morning than to hear your neighbor from down the block snow-blowing your sidewalk.

If dealing with this weather is as painful as going to the dentist, just remember it was a dentist who invented the golf tee.

If your kids are bouncing off the walls with boredom, take comfort from the fact they’ll be signed up to follow the bouncing ball on the soccer field.

Gray days can literally be depressing. Abraham Lincoln, a chronic depressive, knew this and helped his buddy Joshua Speed through a time of personal turmoil and cloudy skies.

Those are the thoughts that warm us most. The times that our friends and neighbors show they care. Organizations like the Community Center prove that Forest Park has a heart. So no matter how cold our climate is, human warmth will get us through January and beyond.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.