The Holidays are upon us and a fresh start to the new year will soon arrive to allow us a do over on 2018. Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror and now, for most, it’s all downhill toward December 25th.That day when credit cards smoke from overuse and the jingle you hear are not from bells but from the last few coins left in your pocket after doing your part to spread Christmas cheer and buy that last minute fruit cake for Aunt Bernice.

I enjoy December, the cold weather, college football and I have even learned to accept prospects telling me they want to “wait until after the first of the year before making a decision”. (Ok maybe that does still frost my sugar cookies) But there is one bit of magic that happens in December that is amazing, people are nicer to each other. It always seems that something happens right after Thanksgiving, maybe it’s the turkey or maybe the gravy (I for one, get downright giddy over a full gravy boat). But right after the last piece of pumpkin pie, everyone seems to be nicer. Total strangers walk by each other and give each other a smiling hello. That person standing in the parking lot with the sign asking for spare change gets a few more waves, a few more God Bless greetings and a few more windows rolled down and a hand extended with a dollar or two followed by a “Merry Christmas”.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could sustain this good cheer throughout the year? We have it in us, look how we come together during every wildfire that hits our community. Does it really need to take a catastrophe, or do we need to look for a different, more sustainable common bond to unite us? Maybe we have that bond of unity and just forgot. Remember Lake County Strong? It doesn’t go away after the fire has been put out or after the shelters close and FEMA leaves. We’re Lake County Strong because we look after each other BEFORE anything bad happens. We’re Lake County Strong because we understand that the annoying neighbor down the street may be the one who dials 911 and helps our family get through a natural disaster.

As I roll into the last month of my term as President of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, I reflect on yet another year of wildfire and tragedy. Shining through the sorrow is the resiliency of a community that rises to take on any and all challenges. During this Holiday Season, take a moment and glance back on what has been and a look forward to what will be upon us in 2019. There will be much to do for our recovery. An economy that will challenge us to make sacrifices and where working together with constructive input will be needed from all of us to put us back on the road to recovery. What will help us get through the challenges that lie ahead? Well, perhaps we can start by just being nicer to each other through the year because we are only Lake County Strong if we all do it together.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and here’s to a Nicer New Year.

Joe Casteel

2018 President, Lake County Chamber of Commerce
Owner, North Bay Merchant Services

Joe Casteel is a 20 year veteran of the Electronic Payment industry and moved his business to Lake County in 2006. A proud member of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce and current President, Joe and his wife Jacie have called Lake County their home since 2001.