Weekly Column: Counting our Blessings this Christmas

The Christmas season is a special time that allows us to reflect upon the blessings in our lives and spend quality time with our loved ones. Jean and I are blessed to call South Dakota home, and we are especially grateful for our continued health and the health of our family. This year, we welcomed two new grandchildren – eight in all! We look forward to spending additional time with them and the rest of our family in the coming weeks.

It is well-known that the Rounds extended family is quite large. This year, just like years past, we expect at least 80 family members at our house on Christmas Eve. After attending 5 o’clock church service, we all gather to enjoy a meal of homemade chicken noodle soup and open presents. Grandpa Don reads the young ones the story of Christmas, reminding us all of the birth of our Lord – the greatest gift of all.

Despite the many challenges facing our nation today, all of us have many gifts to be grateful for. We are all fortunate to call ourselves Americans and South Dakotans, living in the greatest country in the world where we are free to celebrate Christmas without fear of persecution. Our God-given freedoms as written in the Constitution must never be taken for granted.

We are also thankful for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America and their families who make incredible sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms. They are the reason we are able to celebrate this season safely here at home with our loved ones. During these uncertain times, they should be enormously proud of their contributions to our national defense and security.

This season, more than 160 South Dakotans are currently deployed. The South Dakota National Guard’s 155th Engineer Company is stationed in Kuwait, and several other South Dakota soldiers are also stationed away from home. We would like to express our gratitude to the men and women who are deployed and their loved ones who are unable to spend the holiday together. The holiday season can be particularly tough for them. May they continue to find the strength to persevere, knowing they will soon be reconnected.


I also want to take this time to express my gratitude for all South Dakotans who took time to write, call or meet with me as I traveled across the state this year. Your views and opinions are important to me as I work to make the best decisions for South Dakota. It is truly an honor to represent you in the United States Senate.


While there are tough challenges ahead, I believe we are strong enough to tackle them head on. I look forward to working with my colleagues in 2016 to address them. Jean and I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for all you do to make South Dakota great.