Christmas nears, a new year is just out front of us, and it all begs a longer view. So this week we set aside our list of specifics — the gymnastics center expansion that just won’t fall, the high school pools that just won’t open.
Those topics along with the TIFs and the pensions and the tax referendums will all be there come January 2011, and we will offer opinions and, hopefully, solutions then.
But this week how about some gratitude? Some grace? A simple thank you.
We’re grateful to live and to work in Oak Park and River Forest. These are wonderful, fascinating, ambitious and, thankfully, imperfect communities. We tackle big issues like diversity and human rights, preservation and student achievement. We argue and cajole, we object and persuade. We are overly intense, often full of ourselves. We have two newspapers, multiple websites and e-mail networks on every topic that fuel the discussion. Let that discussion be frank and nuanced.
Sometimes we even remember to say thank you.
We say thank you to our elected officials who are almost universally fine and decent folks. They have tough jobs in a tough moment. We’re lucky to have them. We have good government, even when their decisions make us nuts. Don’t take it for granted.
How about the merchants, those full-throttled entrepreneurs whose shops you have hopefully been frequenting these last days before Christmas. These are creative folks who have become sturdy folks in hard times and are still here for us. Buy their stuff.
More than 950 families — old folks, little kids, single moms, families in stress — were “adopted” by hundreds of other families and businesses blessed this year to be on the right side of the ledger. Presents will be unwrapped on Christmas Day. Faith in community has been kindled for both the givers and the receivers. The Food Pantry. The Walk-In Ministry. The Community Foundation. The parents working against drugs and alcohol use by kids. Infant Welfare. Rotary. Girl Scouts. Commissions. Cluster Tutoring. Thousands of hours of volunteering across the year. Thanks.
We say thank you to the cops on cold nights, to the teachers lifting up our kids, to the guys in the snowplows this week. There are more lucrative ways to make a living than public service.
This week the stained glass windows are lit with choir’s late practices, pastors pen sermons, and we say thanks to a faith community that actively celebrates all beliefs and no beliefs, that leads on matters of conscience such as gay rights and women’s rights. Warm hearts. Stiff spines. Every-gendered. That’s how we like our priests and rabbis, our pastors and our preachers.
Thanks for the ultra cool Downtown Oak Park holiday decorations. Silver. Who knew? For Community Bank, our bank. For the Lake Theatre, especially when they book indie films!
We sit at the edge of a great city. We siphon its energy and blow it back. We absorb its imperfections and add our own. But we are suburbs with the blessings of modern urbanity. We have our great history, our iconic figures. But we are unstuck from that past as we craft a future entirely ours. Black, white, brown. Proudly progressive. Minds so open they’re sometimes almost closed. There’s always something to work on.
So thank you for being part of this mosaic, for playing your part.
Now on to 2011.