While Christmas reigns supreme as a holiday marking the birth of our Lord, I have always felt a special connection with Thanksgiving.
These days, Christmas unfortunately includes ubiquitous commercialism which can distract us from the true meaning of the day. Thanksgiving stands apart from all that. This day gives us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our many blessings.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. This day and the origins of our nation are intimately intertwined. Thanksgiving is about who we are and where we came from. As we move forward as a nation, this should be in the front of our minds.
In September of 1620, 102 pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower. After a 66-day journey across the Atlantic, they arrived far north of their intended destination. Many died of starvation and disease. But they struggled, persevered and planted the seeds of civilization. When they had their first bountiful harvest, they gave thanks.
This Thanksgiving we should thank those pilgrims and all those who left the safety of their homes and established the New World. Without their efforts, there would be no America. There would be no Tennesee.
I am thankful to live in Tennessee. As the Volunteer State, we share a proud tradition of service.
While our national politics are being torn apart with rancor and animosity, we make a point to get along with each other in Tennessee — even when we disagree. I am thankful that I live in a state where citizens put competence, foresight and integrity above all things.
Tennessee is one of eight states with a Triple A bond rating from all three credit ratings agencies and our debt and pension liability is lowest in the nation. Our rainy day fund is at its highest level in history.
In contrast, our federal government operates at an astounding deficit. Our national debt, $20 trillion and counting, is an amount most of us have trouble wrapping our head around. And in the midst of this financial disarray, national leaders cannot even get together to pass a budget in a timely fashion.
We are blessed to live in a state that has a bipartisan commitment to financial stability. Our state has benefited from leaders like Edward B. Craig, John Bragg, Ben Atchley, Douglas Henry, Charles Sargent and Bo Watson. For these leaders, fiscal responsibility was (and is) always of paramount importance.
Tennessee state government is not only looking out for the Tennesseans of today. We are looking out for the Tennesseans of tomorrow.
I hope you will join me this Thanksgiving season in giving thanks not just for living in this great state but for all our blessings. I am personally grateful to be surrounded by family. It is the one thing many of us seem to take for granted.
Whether you have the benefit of a large extended family or just a few a close friends, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what is good in our lives.
Enough of our lives and our culture is devoted to petty complaints and grievances. Today is a day, as Alex Haley and Lamar Alexander like to say, to find the good and praise it. There is a lot of good to praise in Tennessee. I am thankful for it. I hope you are, too.
James Rand McNally is a Republican member of the Tennessee Senate. He is the 50th and current lieutenant governor of Tennessee, a position he has held since January due to his position as the 87th Speaker of the state Senate.