It is easy to lose sight of all we have to be thankful for.
After all, a deadly pandemic still rages on and searing political divisions remain — all threatening the ties that bind us together as Americans.
But Thanksgiving is a time to take a step back and reflect on life's blessings. There are many problems facing this country, but there's still so much to be thankful for.
This year, I'm thankful that my family and friends are in good health and vaccinated, thus allowing us to safely celebrate the holidays together.
I'm also thankful for the opportunity to do this wonderful job. There's no better beat in journalism than Illinois state government and politics.
That I've been able to do it for this past year is a blessing. I hope it's the first of many.
In the same vein, I spent this past week asking some state and federal elected officials what they are thankful for this year. Their responses are below.
I hope folks pick up on some of the universal themes in their messages, which suggest we're not as divided as our politics make it seem.
Happy Thanksgiving, Illinois.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker
“This year, I am incredibly thankful for the lifesaving vaccines that will give us an opportunity to safely gather with family and friends. I am thankful for the scientists who worked around the clock so that we can once again feel the warm embrace of love and gratitude together in community. I hope Illinoisans take time to reflect on the resiliency and hope that bonds us as we enter the holiday season.”
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton
“This Thanksgiving, I am incredibly grateful for supportive friends and loving family, especially my father, Henry Wiggins, a retired community doctor and Navy veteran who inspires me every day. I’m also grateful for my health and the essential workers who help protect us as we fight this pandemic. And finally, I’m grateful for the honor to serve the people of Illinois. Everyone, please take the time to reflect and practice self-care as we begin the holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!”
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin
“This year, I am thankful for the scientists, researchers, and health professionals who have guided our response to the pandemic. Because of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, many Illinoisans will be able to gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. I am also grateful for all the essential workers on our farms – many of who are immigrants to this country – that work so hard to help put food on the table for this wonderful American holiday. And, of course, the men and women in uniform who keep us safe.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth
"This year I'm thankful for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and my Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which will help make sure that we're able to start replacing all of the lead pipelines in the country and fix out nation's aging wastewater system. I know it might sound weird to say you're excited by wastewater and sewers, but let me tell you, no one deserves to live in a place where you don't have access to clean drinking water and a good sewer system. So I'm grateful that we're doing better for the working people across our state."
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline
"This year, as so many families are able to gather around the table again - my own included! - I'm thankful for the hard work and leadership of President Biden and my Congressional colleagues that made that possible. As folks travel again for the holidays, I'm grateful we were able to pass the historic, bipartisan infrastructure package that will help reconnect America. And as a wife, mother and grandmother, I'm just happy to be able to hug my loved ones and enjoy a good meal!"
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville
"I’m thankful all in my family are healthy and that all of us are blessed to live in the greatest country in the history of the world."
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap
“This year, I am thankful for the health of my family and the opportunity to spend time with my wife Kristen and our three boys, McKay, Lucas, and Teddy over the Thanksgiving holiday. During the holiday season, I am grateful to the countless residents of central Illinois who have come together to support one another as we navigated the challenges of the past year.”
Secretary of State Jesse White
“I am thankful for having been blessed with terrific family and wonderful friends.
I am thankful to the people of Illinois who have allowed me to serve as their Secretary of State for the past 23 years. We have made the roads safer and saved lives.
I am thankful for having the privilege of heading our state's Organ and Tissue Donor program which has given many others a second chance of life.
I am thankful for the 18,500 young men and women who have participated in the Jesse White Tumbling Team over the last 61 years and gone on to make their own meaningful contributions to society.
I am thankful to have been born in the greatest country in the history of the world. Having served in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division as well as the Illinois National Guard and Reserve, nothing makes me more proud than being an American.”
Comptroller Susana Mendoza
"For me, it's my brother still being with us. Last Thanksgiving he was fighting for his life. This Thanksgiving he's still with us. Complications from COVID-19 cost him his kidneys. But he has a good attitude. He's a fighter and we're blessed to have him with us. I'm thankful for the love of family and friends and that we can gather with family and friends including my brother this year. We'll be celebrating my mother-in-law's 80th birthday."
Attorney General Kwame Raoul
“As Illinois’ Attorney General in my first term in this office, I am extremely thankful for my staff. When I took office, there were many responsibilities and challenges I anticipated we would collectively face. However, I could never have predicted that we would have to navigate a pandemic and cyberattack simultaneously. Both events increased our workload significantly, particularly as we defend statewide COVID mitigations, protect essential workers, address COVID-related fraud and contribute to fighting gun violence. I am grateful for my staff’s unwavering dedication to serving the public interest during unprecedented challenges.”
Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park
“As always, I am thankful for my family. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is about spending time with loved ones, giving thanks, and giving back.”
House Speaker Chris Welch, D-Hillside
“As Speaker of the House, I am grateful for the opportunity to work on behalf of our state in this special role, the successful session we had this year and for the people of Illinois who I am humbled to serve. Every day I am thankful for our men and women in uniform and first responders, especially those who are unable to spend this holiday season with their loved ones as they work to keep our communities safe. And, I am tremendously thankful for family, friends, good health and, of course, our God for the abundant blessings bestowed upon us by His goodness.”
Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods
“I’m thankful to live in a country that allows disabled people like me to overcome overwhelming obstacles to reach for and achieve great things. I’m thankful to live in a state that welcomes immigrants like my strong wife, who survived the selfishness of the government leaders in her communist homeland, to build a family on love instead of fear. I’m thankful to live in a community that provides my two amazing daughters the freedom of ideas and the belief that, through hard work, they can accomplish anything to which they set their mind.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs
"While it’s easy to get caught up with everything going wrong in the world, Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to take a step back and count our blessings. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the people of our great state and to work with dedicated public servants who strive to make Illinois a better place to work and live. I’m thankful for the police, fire, first responders and frontline workers who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe over the last several years, and for those who have stepped up to help those less fortunate in our communities during such unprecedented times. And, of course, I’m thankful that my family is happy and healthy this holiday season."
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington
“I am grateful for my wonderful family, anchored by my wife Kristin, and including our three young children, Augie, Wally and Lia. I am thankful that we can raise our family in the greatest country in the world. Happy Thanksgiving!”
State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet
“I’m thankful for my amazingly awesome wife and our kids. I am very blessed that we are able to raise our children in the greatest nation to have ever existed and for the abundant opportunities God continues to provide. Happy Thanksgiving to all.”
State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield
“My husband was extremely ill this year so I am thankful for his full recovery. I am also thankful for the opportunity to serve the 48th district. This is an amazing opportunity that I treasure and am thankful for each and every day.”
State Sen. Sally Turner, R-Beason
“This holiday season I am thankful for my strong faith, the freedoms I enjoy as an American, and the good health of my family and friends. I am also so thankful for the past 11 months, where I have had the privilege to represent the people of the 44th Senate District. I would like to wish everyone a happy and blessed holiday.”
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington
“I am thankful for the support of family, friends and supporters who put service above self and help others in need and understand truly how much we have to be thankful for in our lives.”
State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur
“I am thankful that all of my family was able to get the COVID vaccine and booster.”