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A Joyful Season

By Sen. John Thune

December 23, 2022

Trimming the tree. Wrapping the gifts. Making Christmas cookies. We cherish these traditions with our loved ones. And then on Christmas Day, the flurry of preparation gives way to the warmth of the fire, the aroma of a delicious dinner, and the sounds of family and friends gathered together. All this and more make Christmas a special time to be thankful for the blessings of family and for God’s love revealed through His son, Jesus.

Like many South Dakotans, my most treasured Christmas memories are tied to family traditions. I remember piling in the car for Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house for her Norwegian specialties, lutefisk and lefse. We would then continue on to Okaton for the annual Christmas Eve service. During Christmas, my siblings and I always looked forward to a break from school, ice skating with friends, and sledding down Jackson Avenue in Murdo, hopefully on a new, faster sled that had arrived under the tree.

As Kimberley and I raised our daughters, we kept many of our families’ traditions alive – although we replaced lutefisk with clam chowder, a family favorite. I’ll always cherish the memory of watching my daughters in their church and school Christmas programs and joining in their excitement on Christmas morning. Now that our daughters have grown up, our family has grown to include our two sons-in-law and five grandchildren. We’ve started new traditions, but we still share Christmas Eve together like we did with my grandmother all those years ago.

As I spend time with my family during the holidays, I’m also mindful that many of our servicemen and women stationed around the globe don’t get to spend Christmas with their families. I’m grateful for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, our South Dakota way of life, and that we are able to celebrate Christmas in peace and security. These things aren’t free, and at Christmastime I’m especially thankful for our men and women in uniform and their families, whose sacrifices and bravery help secure these blessings.

The Christmas season also brings out some of the best in our communities. I am always impressed with the generosity of the many South Dakotans who give their time and resources to help the less fortunate during the Christmas season. Their giving spirit represents the best of South Dakota and the best of the holiday season.

Whether it’s the bright decorations, the aroma of a tree and a delicious meal in your home, seasonal songs on the radio, or the good cheer emanating from family and friends, it’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit in South Dakota. As you celebrate your families’ traditions and make new memories this holiday season, Kimberley and I want to wish you a blessed Christmas and much happiness in the New Year. May the season be filled with joy for you and your family.