The holidays are over, and the tree has been turned into mulch. The decorations, many of which are like old friends, have all been put away until next Christmas, and our New Year’s resolutions include fresh and renewed commitments to be or do better this year than last. 

More significantly, our older two children have returned to college and my youngest has started her last semester of high school. It is not simply that the wonderful family “chaos” has again abated or that house is less full, but that with each passing year the family time becomes less and less. 

For me, the hardest part of the holiday season is the conclusion of the few weeks period when each morning, while I drink my first cup of coffee, each of our offspring are asleep in their respective bedrooms upstairs. I have treasured each day they were here this year and look forward to next year in a melancholy sort of way. 

Our oldest child, Reedy, is a college senior and likely, at least for the next few years, will not have an extended Christmas break. Further, this year was the last holiday season with a high schooler. 

It is a bit daunting to think that next year Rose and I will have our first experience decorating the house for our brood without the extra hands and their youthful excitement around to help. However, I am already thinking about what a blessing it will be to have them all here together then. 

Last week, I had the privilege of being included in the Riley-Wilkins Awards Dinner recognizing Sen. Thomas Alexander and our own Roland Gardner from Beaufort Jasper Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. The Riley Institute’s annual celebration of civic and legislative leadership are highly coveted awards. 

In 2017, I was honored to receive the Ambassador David Wilkins Legislative Leadership award from the Riley Institute at Furman University. In accepting that award I thanked the Riley Institute for providing an image of what “good government” looks like and for helping us understand its relationship to the idea of true “public service.” 

Throughout my tenure in public office, I have often stated good government is the result of public servants working together to build consensus in doing the people’s business in a transparent manner with honor, integrity and discipline. 

Republicans often think we have the corner on growth and economic opportunity. I agree strongly with my good friend and former representative Democrat James Smith, the 2011 legislative award recipient, when he says, “We all love this state and want to have it succeed. We might have different ideas on how we get there, but we respect each other [because we share] a genuine devotion to the future of our state.” 

A key component to leadership in the state house is that whether you are a Republican or Democrat, you are committed to the wellbeing of the people of South Carolina. As we begin a new year, it is my hope that this beginning will be met with faith and the optimism that together we can move head. 

It is my honor and privilege to serve the citizens and residents of House District 120.

Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.