Above / Illinois State Representative Grant Wehrli is pictured in December 2018 during the dedication of the “Laughing Lincoln” sculpture in Central Park, one of the locations for Century Walk art in downtown Naperville. Also pictured with Rep. Wehrli and the “President Abraham Lincoln” interpreter in the back row are his sisters, Annette Wehrli and Jill Wehrli. Sisters Francie Wehrli and Mary Lou Wehrli are seated alongside artist David Alan Clark’s depiction of 30-year-old storyteller Lincoln. The sculpture helps tell the story of Lincoln’s connection to Joseph Naper that often was presented by their father, Don Wehrli (1928-2015), former Naperville City Council member and Central Park advocate.
The holiday season is here – that wonderful time of year we’ve all been waiting for since it ended last year, and the anticipation of this year’s new presents waiting for us under the tree! OK, well maybe that’s a bit more of a child’s take on the holiday season, but sometimes we adults feel that same excitement at a special gift we hope to receive.
While we all love receiving that special gift, as we grow up (and definitely once we have kids of our own) our perspective on the holidays starts to shift. For me, like I’m sure many of you as well, those special moments with my family are one of the most important parts of my holiday season.
Last year, that special moment for me came when “Laughing Lincoln” was dedicated on the Century Walk at Naperville’s Central Park. It was a dream come true for my Dad. It was his idea that led to the statue, which commemorates the work of Abraham Lincoln and Naperville founder, Joe Naper, in bringing about the birth of DuPage County.
That meant a lot to my Dad, and it was special for me to see his joy at the work created by the Century Walk Naperville Public Arts program. But I know my Dad’s joy wasn’t so much about personal pride, it was a way for him to give back and preserve the rich history of our community, which has given so much to him and our family.
That idea of giving is what really makes the holiday season, the season of giving, so special. Whether you’re giving a gift to a loved one and watching the joy in their face as they open it, whether you’re giving a toy or a pair of socks to a holiday drive, or whether you’re giving your time to volunteer in the community, these are all what makes the season so special.
Even though it seems like there is so much tension in society today, if you stop for a moment and look around our community, there are so many great examples of people giving to one another, which is why I love our community so much.
To all the families throughout the Naperville area, from my family to yours, I hope your holiday season is filled with many special moments of giving, love and laughter.