Advent candles

The Advent candles are lit for the Christmas season at First Christian Reformed Church in Crown Point.

The holiday wishes from Times readers this year show the quality of residents living among us.

Earlier this month, we began asking our readers to submit letters to the editor, identifying Christmas or holiday wish lists for our greater Region.

They didn't disappoint.

Today, we're publishing a dozen of the letters we received, several with selfless pleas ranging from cures for childhood cancer to housing and financial help for ailing, elderly neighbors.

Some of the letters also include wishes for better and more ethical government in Northwest Indiana or a permanent home for one of our most important Region institutions in the wake of the Star Plaza Theatre's closing.

You can read those published letters today on this page in print or at nwi.com/opinion.

Meanwhile, The Times Editorial Board is providing some Christmas wishes for our greater Region.

Home for the symphony

In a closing act for 2017, the Star Plaza Theatre hosted its final production ever.

The nostalgic venue is being demolished, making way for other business ventures.

That demolition leaves the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra without a permanent home.

We've asked before — and are asking again — for Region leaders, planners and the public at large to pool collective ideas and resources for a future event center to serve as the chief venue for the symphony and so many other aspects of Region culture and quality of life.

Rail dream realized

We've been imploring Region leaders and transportation planners for years to get behind commuter rail expansion in our Region.

A big part of that wish was granted in 2017. Now we all need to show our support to bring it to final fruition.

Extending the South Shore Line from Hammond to Dyer and double-tracking between Gary and Michigan City has received unprecedented, unified support from our Region's local, state and national leaders.

The proposal now sits before a federal transportation agency, and Congress, as it seeks the important matching federal dollars for already pledged local and state investment.

We wish for our local, state and congressional leaders to keep this program front and center in the consciousness of federal agencies as we await a funding decision in 2018.

Generous giving

Region-based charities do a plethora of good works in our communities.

Please help them continue doing so.

Local offices of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way, church and township food banks — and so many other organizations — need donations of materials and money year-round, not just at Christmas time.

We wish for our readers to find it in their hearts to give when they can.

Fewer political scandals

From a Lake County councilman arrested, yet again, on domestic violence charges to a former sheriff convicted of felony bribery, our Region has seen yet another year chock-full of political scandals.

Enough.

We wish for sitting elected and other public officials to turn their backs on these embarrassments, blow the whistle when they witness illegal or unethical conduct and take action to remove unsavory colleagues who aren't performing their duties.

Unity of common purpose

Finally, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We hope all can find a common purpose and humanity to last until next Christmas.

At a time of historic divisions, anger and even hatred in our country, the Region can and should lead the way through unity, charity and inclusiveness among our neighbors.

Some of that starts with proposing solutions, rather than just opposing what others suggest. The rest is just a product of realizing common humanity.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.