By Mike Whittlesey

Two contemporary holiday songs come to mind as we put the finishing touches on this, the annual holiday edition of The Progress Review. I’m not entirely sure where one draws the line to separate contemporary holiday songs from their traditional counterparts. Perhaps it’s more about the artist than the song itself, as Celebrate Me Home and Please Come Home for Christmas were made famous by popular versions recorded by Kenny Loggins and the Eagles, respectively. And while we call them contemporary songs, it’s important to note that Celebrate Me Home was recorded by Loggins in 1977, followed by Please Come Home for Christmas, a tune composed in 1960, which peaked at #18 for the Eagles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1978.

“Please celebrate me home. Play me one more song that I’ll always remember and I can recall. Whenever I find myself too all alone, I can sing me home,” Loggins sings.

Similarly, Don Henley and the Eagles sing about Christmas being “the time of year to be with the ones you love.”

Music has an incredible power to transport us back in time, especially during the holiday season.

“It’s not Christmas until I hear (insert the name of a particular song),” is a common refrain heard during the month of December. Because these songs recall memories of our childhood or some other time in our lives, they evoke strong feelings. The holiday season also offers many versions of the same song, and each of us have definite opinions about which ones we prefer. Given the choice, I’m quite certain my dad would have kicked Brenda Lee’s Marshmallow World to the curb in favor of Dean Martin’s rendition.

The holiday season is indeed, filled with traditions, from the food we eat and the songs we sing to the way we decorate our homes.  The one constant of the crazy busy hustle and bustle of the season is home, and the family members who return there for Christmas.

At The Progress Review, the making of the holiday edition is filled with traditional features our readers have come to expect. Included in this edition are messages from area pastors, reflecting on the true meaning of the season. These messages of peace and hope are contrasted by brief essays composed by area fifth graders, sharing what Christmas means to them. The pages of this issue also contain greetings from area merchants. Their service to the community plays an important role in the local economy and quality of life we enjoy here in La Porte City. Finally, on page 16 you’ll find the announcement of the winners in the La Porte City Home Lighting Contest.

The weeks leading up to Christmas Day  have been filled with thoughts and images of the holidays and home. We’ve attempted to capture that essence on the cover of this holiday edition, which depicts a Christmas tree adorned by several ornaments. If the tree represents the greater community we call home, each ornament offers a snapshot of the holiday spirit contained within its walls.

As we “decorated” the tree, it soon became apparent there were far too many “ornaments” to place upon its branches. So, in the interest of sharing a bit of holiday spirit, we invite you, dear reader, to Celebrate Me Home. This brief video slideshow features images captured in and around La Porte City during the holiday season. To view this special holiday greeting, logon to and click on the Celebrate Me Home link.

With 2014 on the near horizon, please accept our best wishes for a very happy holiday season, one filled with family wherever you call home.

-Mike and Jane Whittlesey