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A South Dakota Christmas

Each year around the holidays, Jean and I like to reflect upon all of our blessings. We are incredibly grateful for our family and friends, our good health and the fact that we get to call South Dakota home. We are looking forward to spending Christmas with our loved ones, including my dad Grandpa Don and his wife Rosemary, Jean’s parents, our four kids, their spouses, our eight grandkids and all of our extended family members.

For as long as I can remember, our family has always gathered together after the 5 o’clock Christmas Eve mass at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Pierre. We look forward to celebrating the holiday at our house with our family again this year, and continuing to tell the story of Christmas and reflect upon what is truly important this holiday season: family, friends, and the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is also important during this time to express our gratitude to the men and women in uniform who may be spending the holidays far from home. Because of their service, the United States is the greatest, freest, most prosperous country in the world. I recently had the honor of attending a welcome home ceremony in Sioux Falls for the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and it was heartwarming to see families reconnect after spending nearly one year away from each other. We wish all of our servicemen and women, and their families, a blessed holiday season, and we pray that they will all be together again very soon.

For some, the holidays can be a challenging time of year. Showing kindness to our neighbors—and to strangers—costs nothing and can make a difference in someone’s day, week or even year. We have so much to be grateful for as South Dakotans and Americans. During the Christmas season, we are encouraged to spread the message of peace on earth and goodwill to all. This is a message that we should remember throughout the rest of the year as well.

Once again, I would like to wish all South Dakotans a very blessed Christmas and peace in the new year. I thank those of you who took the time to write, call or meet with me as I traveled across the state. It is an honor to work for you in the United States Senate. Thank you for all you do to make South Dakota the best place in the world to call home.