On this Thanksgiving holiday, we would be remiss to not mention the blessings in our lives at this time in Utah. It is my favorite holiday.

The world is especially chaotic right now, with political hype surrounding the completion of elections, natural disasters swirling, corrupt governments killing and migrants and refugees trying to escape their homelands because conditions are no longer safe and habitable.

But 2018 has been relatively generous to us in Utah. More businesses have started and located here, pushing forward the engine of our economy. While a low water year, the many fires over the summer and fall were not nearly as fatal as they could have been; not nearly as fatal as those facing Californians who have lost family members, homes and all their earthly belongings.

Many of us will gather around a meal with family, friends or coworkers this week, under a warm roof, sheltered from rain or snow.

Not all will be as fortunate. But, there are more than enough opportunities for this volunteering state to reach out and provide service to those in need this holiday season — be it providing meals, providing Christmas toys or much-needed winter clothes to children and adults. We are fortunate to live in a state that volunteers more than any other, not because of the No. 1 spot on a list, but because we act. Continue to act when you see a need, be it a kind gesture, monetary donation, or even patience and forgiveness.

I’m thankful to call this place home, to always be watched over by the mountains along the Wasatch Front towering over, not only as a landmark and beacon, but as a source of water, recreation and spirituality.

I’m thankful to live among communities with individuals and public servants dedicated to making them better places to reside, with an eye toward the future and plans taking shape for our youth. While there is much yet to do, there is hope and growth. I believe in being a good steward, not only of the environment, but also of our physical communities that require seemingly constant upkeep and adaptations as demographics shift.

I’m thankful for those in our communities who might consider themselves a minority, whether be it race, gender or faith. We are stronger because of your presence and influence that adds to our perspectives; we need more of it.

I’m grateful for our veterans, to be an American, to be endowed with rights and freedoms that allow me to continually take advantage of my constitutional rights. This has been at the forefront of my mind as the state has mourned the loss of Maj. Brent Taylor, mayor of North Ogden, who was killed in Afghanistan this month. He left a wife and seven children. To say I am grateful for his sacrifice seems insufficent — for the sacrifice his wife, Jennie, made and will continue to make as she draws upon her strength and the strength of those around her to forge on.

My wish in this season of gratitude, despite all the shortcomings surrounding us and the woes of the day, is that we strive a little bit harder to comprehend the struggles and needs of those around us and seek after solutions and compassion.

May your holiday be safe and hearty.

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