The stockings were hung, candles and lights adorned tables and trees, and the scent of evergreen and cranberry all contributed to the warmth of the holiday season. 

As is tradition at our house, holiday songs filled the air and holiday decorations were proudly unwrapped and displayed the day after Thanksgiving. For five or six weeks, our home is comfortably crowded with holiday decorations. The spirit of giving evolves into thoughtful reflection, and then into expectations of the New Year. We vow that this year, promises made to ourselves and to each other for positive changes in behavior and attitude will not be broken.

Down come the holiday decorations, leaving empty shelves and spaces. And with somewhat heavy souls, we mourn the passing of another season.

Filling the void is all in our attitudes. New beginnings, fresh ideas, anticipation for the 2004 adventure ahead-this can be the year you embrace the arts. Participating in the arts means signing up for an art class, volunteering-or even auditioning-for one of the many upcoming theater productions, or attending one of the many musical events offered. Or perhaps it’s time to redecorate the house. Enjoy it by letting your creativity run wild: Imagine a bold new paint color on the living room wall, complemented by a new piece of art.

Dr. Don Rager, of the U of I College of Medicine, wrote an article in InterBusiness Issues last month: "Celebrating Creativity in the Knowledge Economy." "Creativity is the parallel that connects the greatest engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs with the most masterful choreographers, musicians, sculptors, and painters. Whether the artist is trying to create something beautiful or the inventor is developing a solution that defies traditional thinking, creativity is the common denominator. Creativity is alive in central Illinois," he wrote.

To help inspire and celebrate our creativity in the New Year, Peoria NEXT, together with ArtsPartners, is sponsoring a Day of Creativity and Discovery February 6 at the Peoria Civic Center. To read more about this event, turn to pages 10 and 11 in this issue. 

We at Central Illinois Business Publishers applaud the collaboration of these central Illinois organizations that recognize a wealth of creativity-in business, science, and in art. It is critical to our success. The drab days of a Midwestern winter will be eagerly anticipated with a renewed interest in culture, arts, and creativity. We’ll continue to encourage your participation in our progressive Peoria area community. AA!