governor’s desk

The best gift ever

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I had a couple of free hours last Saturday and decided to run some errands and try to find a few last-minute Christmas gifts for my family. Walking into a local small business, I immediately spotted a tiny baby outfit that said, “Best Gift Ever!” written across the front. I was so sad to see that they did not have a six-month-old size, as that would have been perfect for my brand-new little granddaughter Adeline West Peters, who I call “Miss Addie.”

She has truly been the best gift EVER for this new grandma and has dramatically changed our lives. I find myself constantly amazed by the miracle she is – her tiny toes, her long dark hair, her spitfire personality. Listen, when Miss Addie is hungry, she is hungry NOW!

I tend to lose track of time when I have her in my arms. I’m constantly telling our kids, “Look at her! She is so much more aware than you kids were! She is so smart! Look at how advanced she is!” I am sure they are all rolling their eyes behind my back as I go on and on about all the adventures we are going to have together in the future.

Miss Addie brings me joy, cheers me up on hard days, and reminds me constantly of something we all need: Hope.

This world is desperate for hope right now. We have been through incredibly challenging times in the last couple of years. Unpredictable events left this country reeling and unsteady in its approach to taking care of people. Fear and anger were used to manipulate people’s actions in unprecedented ways. We can all spend our time focusing on division and disagreement and continue to perpetuate that fear, or we can choose something else: Hope.

Bryon and I attended the Christmas at the Cathedral production this past weekend at Saint Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls. Bishop Donald DeGrood opened the evening asking those in attendance to think about the evening’s theme “Be Born in Me” in a different way.

Christmas is a time for telling the story of Jesus’s birth. The bishop encouraged us to truly let Christ live in us and to personalize the story in a way that brings newness and life. He reminded us that faith must be lived. Christ’s presence must be in us in order to be what God truly intended for us. God sent his son to endure incredible hardships so that we may be redeemed and have hope.

The actress who portrayed Mary, Apolonia Davalos, said these words that evening that are so powerful. She said, “The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is trust.” Mary trusted in her Lord, and He used her to bring salvation to the world. That trust is the basis for the Christian faith upon which this country was founded.

Now, not all of us living here today share the Christian faith, and that diversity of faith and acceptance by all is what makes America special. Everyone living here in this country enjoys freedom of religion and it is a precious right we must still protect. However, I do believe we all can garner some wisdom from the lessons of Christmas and the season we enjoy.

While Miss Addie is truly an amazing blessing in my life, the best gift ever is Jesus. And while we could focus on the darkness, hardships, and trials of his arrival, let us all reflect on and embrace what his birth meant to all of us: Hope.

Merry Christmas from the Noem family!

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