There's no place like home for the holidays. That refrain rings especially true in Lake Oswego, where the holiday season is filled with traditions and events that draw us together - the holiday tree-lighting, carriage rides at Millennium Plaza Park, lighted ships, parties and events. No matter what your faith, the (end of November) and the month of December, in the dark of winter, is a time to gather friends and family, reach out to those less fortunate, and celebrate community.

And what a community we have! We encourage you to enjoy and share the best of Lake Oswego this year. Discover the treasures right in your backyard - a rich history, wonderful parks, outstanding public art, rich cultural offerings, a gorgeous natural setting and a wide variety of community gathering places, services, restaurants and shops. When it comes to holiday shopping and entertainment, Lake Oswego's small businesses are the place to start. You'll be surprised at the variety of unique and creative gift options you can find right in Lake Oswego. In fact, as one downtown merchant tells it, people come into her shop on Dec. 23rd and find the special gift they've been struggling to find at the mall, wishing they had started their shopping in Lake Oswego. Say Hello to L.O.!

The city council recently proclaimed Nov. 26th as Small Business Saturday, joining communities across the nation in promoting support of the small businesses that are an essential part of a strong community and strong economy. Shopping local benefits us in many ways. Nationally, small businesses created 65 percent of all new jobs over the past two decades, and spending at local, independently owned businesses stays in the community. Many of Lake Oswego's small businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors who are the generous 'go-to' sponsors of community organizations and events. They deserve our support, especially in the all-important holiday shopping season.

Similarly, we encourage you to consider local holiday giving to support the nonprofit and charitable organizations that provide so many valuable programs that enhance our community and help those in need.

When you curl up with a bowl of popcorn to watch the Frank Capra classic, 'It's a Wonderful Life,' this holiday season, consider the sequence when George Bailey's angel shows him how his town might be if he had never existed to do good things. Imagine a Lake Oswego without the benefit of volunteer time, community support and public investment. Wander through Lake Oswego's commercial districts and you'd see a very bleak picture - vacant storefronts, empty sidewalks, no flower baskets, no sculptures and no events or activities. And all throughout the town, people struggling.

Fortunately, it is a wonderful life for most of us in Lake Oswego. Our community assets and helping hands are here because of your patronage, your donations, your time and your effort. Please join us in appreciating and supporting our Lake Oswego family this holiday season and throughout the new year. Happy holidays!

Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman and Lake Oswego City Councilors Jeff Gudman, Donna Jordan, Mike Kehoe, Sally Moncrieff, Mary Olson and Bill Tierney.

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