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Focus on the positive this Thanksgiving
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Thanksgiving is more than just a day of feasting. The holiday reminds us to put aside our personal and political differences for at least one day to pause with family, friends and neighbors to give thanks for all we have.


Every day we worry about issues that affect us personally and those facing our nation, such as the economy, the future of our health care system and the war raging overseas. Now is the time of year to turn our attention to the positive things in our lives, and challenge ourselves to make a difference in someone else’s life. 


A quote from President Ronald Reagan sums up this idea perfectly: “Take full advantage of the wonderful life that lies in store for you. Rejoice in your freedom, and sample the full richness of the opportunities that lie before you. Help one another, trust in yourselves, and have faith in God, and you’ll find more joy and happiness than you could imagine.” 


This Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to put all problems aside and focus on one thing: giving thanks. 


For some Georgians, it may seem that opportunities are less these days and your neighbors may need help and support now more than ever.


However, we should look on the bright side. There are signs that our economy is picking up. 


For example, it’s expected that there will be an 11 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel this year. The AAA projects that 1.2 million Georgians will travel 50 miles or more from home, part of the about 42.2 million Americans who will travel across the U.S. this year. This is good news for our airline industry, as air travel in Georgia is expected to increase 3.2 percent. 


Yes, the state and national unemployment rate remains stagnant, but the holidays bring many opportunities for seasonal jobs that can help people earn a little extra money.


Retailers could hire as much as 70 percent more workers from two years ago, an increase of 30 percent from last year alone. Seasonal hiring is a good indicator of economic growth. Retailers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s and Borders have announced increased hiring levels, and Toys ‘R’ Us recently announced that it will double its U.S. workforce.


As many as 650,000 people could have a job opportunity this holiday season, which could help a family put more presents under the tree and make the difference between a holiday on cutbacks or an unforgettable Christmas morning. 


We should also be thankful for the many ways we can easily make a positive impact in someone else’s life. Contribute to a local food bank so that others can have their own Thanksgiving meal. Many churches within our own communities coordinate Thanksgiving meals for those in need. Stop by and contribute with food or service. Give thanks to the military family down the street for their family member standing in harms way to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. Help them prepare a meal, assist with housework, or simply join them in praying for the safe return of their loved one. 


The Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful time for us all to reflect on what is truly important and meaningful in life. There is no doubt that many have felt the effects of one of the more impactful financial recessions in recent memory.  These times of such widespread hardship call for us to give more than a moment or two of thanks.


Take time to be thankful for our loved ones gathered with us. Remember and give thanks for those serving overseas to protect our homeland that cannot be with their families, but are doing their honorable duty to protect ours. Practice compassionate conservatism and good stewardship by helping those less fortunate. We should also remember to be thankful that we live in a nation of democracy where we can voice our opinions and vote for our leaders. A church sign I passed recently said: “Count your blessings and not your lackings, as we all have many more of the former than the latter.”


I wish you and your family a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.


Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He can be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via e-mail at