By Gov. Dennis Daugaard
Christmas is a time when all of us, young and old, are free to become children again, if only for a while.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the “Little House on the Prairie’’ series, said it this way: “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.’’
Wilder, who spent a good part of her life in the De Smet area, used the term “kindred,’’ which is an old-fashioned way of saying kinfolk or family. That’s appropriate, because Christmas is all about family, the spirit of giving and the joy of being together.
As a child, I could hardly wait for Christmas to arrive and the gifts to be passed around and opened. Now that I’ve grown up, I find that my enjoyment of the season is more about watching others open their gifts. My enjoyment of the season is also about the sights and sounds and smells that carry the Christmas message of peace and good will. I’ll admit that on Christmas, I do become in spirit a child again, anticipating the expressions of surprise and joy on the faces of family and friends as we share gifts. It’s a wonderful feeling, and it is meant to be shared.
You know, I’m one of the luckiest people in South Dakota these days. The annual Christmas tree display is ready for viewing in the Capitol. When I walk into the Capitol building each morning from now until after Christmas Day, I will be greeted by the rich aroma of pine trees and the sparkling reflection of Christmas lights on the ornaments that decorate those trees. Just walking down the hallway to my office is an opportunity to re-experience childhood memories of this joyful season.
In the spirit of the season, I very much would like to share that rich experience with each of you. This year’s theme for Christmas at the Capitol is “Christmas in the Great Outdoors.’’ Many volunteers have devoted precious hours to create the annual holiday display. As always, they have done a great job.
Each of you is invited to visit the capital city anytime during the Christmas season to enjoy Christmas in the Great Outdoors. The display, which includes nearly 100 trees, is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Saturday, Dec. 28.
I invite you to take the opportunity to visit your Capitol this season. Bring your family or friends. Enjoy the display and, for a little while, become in spirit a child again.