Merry Christmas

Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of the year.  I’m not quite sure how to explain it exactly, but during the two weeks leading up to Christmas, everyone just appears to be happier, and it couldn’t come at a better time considering we are suffering through a cold spell in the dead of winter.

We all enjoy the little things about the holidays: whether it be the decorations, the lights, the music, the presents, or the Christmas movies.  And then there’s the glimmering hope of the New Year; the idea that everything bad that happened in 2016 will be in the past.  The year 2017 will be a blank slate and a fresh start.  This is certainly the most wonderful time of the year.

Over the past several months you’ve heard me week after week lamenting the current state of the state.  By now you know that we have more than our share of challenges in the coming New Year, but we also have a grand opportunity: we can start the New Year fresh.  Of course, the issues that have plagued our state will still exist 2017, but that doesn’t mean that the partisan conflicts need to continue.

Perhaps I’m being a hopeless optimist, but I see a sliver of hope for Illinois.  The task ahead is daunting and the road is long, but as I’ve said before there isn’t a reason why we can’t meet somewhere in the middle.  Just this morning I read that the other side of the aisle is considering backing away from an adversarial role.  If true, that would be welcoming news to just about all of us.

There is also a report out from Chicago Tonight that House Democrats may be considering an early retirement for the longtime Speaker of the House.  Just maybe, for the first time in decades, bi-partisan compromise is within grasp.  Perhaps my friends on the other side of the aisle will seek a thawing of relations for the good of the state.  As far as I’m concerned, that would be the ultimate Christmas gift.

I mentioned Christmas movies earlier in the column, and right now there’s one that comes to mind when we talk about putting aside our differences to meet in the middle.  There’s a foreign World War I film (I know, not your traditional Christmas movie) called Joyeux Noel.  To give you a brief synopsis: Allied and German soldiers reach an unofficial truce on the Western Front in 1914, and both sides cross into no-mans land and spend the night singing Christmas carols. The premise sounds ridiculous right? Well believe it or not the movie was inspired by actual events.

My point is this: if Allied and German soldiers could come together at Christmas, then maybe it’s not too farfetched to believe that there’s hope for us in Illinois.  We aren’t enemies facing off on a battlefield, we are political opponents who just see things differently.  I hope and pray that we can find a way to leave our trenches and meet in the middle.

I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of all the local charities that need all of our help at this time of year.  There are too many to mention, but all of them do great work for Northwest Illinois.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of Holiday shopping and gift giving, please remember to give a gift to those in need.  I truly believe that you reap what you sow, so why not go into the New Year sowing good seeds throughout our community.  Whether it’s a red kettle, a toy drive, or a donation to a food pantry - please consider investing in our community.

I’ll leave you with the profound words of Winston Churchill who said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  May we all take stock of this simple truth as we go about the Holiday Season. And from the bottom of my heart to all of you, I wish you a Merry Christmas!

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at repstewart@gmail.com.  You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or on Facebook.