Next week is Thanksgiving, my second favorite holiday after Christmas. It is a time when we reflect on the many blessings we enjoy. I have been here almost one year, and I have noticed many great qualities of our Stanislaus communities. I would like to express my thanks for those qualities, and what they have meant to me and my family.
First is the quality of bounty or abundance. We see abundance in our great harvest. The Central Valley is truly a breadbasket that feeds the world. I have witnessed that abundance in the fields, the orchards, the factories, the farmers markets, and the many roadside stands.
But abundance is not just defined by food and drink. It is also defined by a giving heart and helping hand. This past week I attended the Salvation Army Kettle Kickoff in Modesto. I couldn't get an exact count, but there must have been more than 1,200 people in attendance. We raised more than $200,000 to help alleviate suffering in our communities. Many lives will be touched by the abundance of those who support such worthy causes as the Salvation Army. I have seen this attitude expressed in so many ways. Whether it be the ministry of many people in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked or giving comfort to the comfortless, this county is a county that truly cares and truly gives. For that I am grateful.
Second is the quality of hard work. I grew up in a military family. Work was ingrained into my life at an early age. It also helped to grow up in Idaho around a lot of farmers. My grandpa was a farmer and raised alfalfa. I spent many days working on his farm. I learned throughout my childhood and youth the value of hard work. Hard work does pay off and brings new opportunities. I see that same value here in Stanislaus County. I have seen it on the factory floor. I have seen it expressed by government officials. I have seen it in my own office where our staff work around the clock to bring new jobs to our county.
Third is the quality of community patriotism. When most people think of patriotism they think of the Flag or the military or Fourth of July parades and fireworks. They don't necessarily think about their own community.
By definition a patriot is a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion. Therefore, a community patriot is one who loves, supports, and defends his or her community and its interests with devotion. They give time and money to help their community prosper. They think more about the needs of the community as a whole rather than their own personal needs. I see a lot of that spirit throughout Stanislaus County. We need more of it. We need people who will not apologize about their community but will do something about making it better. I could write a book about all the examples of community patriotism I have already witnessed. It is inspiring to me and gives me great hope that we will see better times ahead.
I could go on and on about the great qualities I have witnessed here and for which I am thankful, but I will leave it with the three previously mentioned. Thomas S. Monson once said, "We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, 'He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.'" As we think about the things we are grateful for, let us reflect about all the goodness in our lives with an attitude to make things better!