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The Holiday Season at the Texas Capitol

I hope you'll have a chance to visit the state Capitol in the next few weeks and see how the holiday season is celebrated throughout this beautiful and historic building.

In the middle of the House chamber on the Capitol's second floor sits a 23-foot, Texas-grown Christmas tree. The tree is decorated with ornaments collected through the District Ornament Project. Julie began this project back in 2009 as a way to make sure that our entire state is represented on the House tree. Each Member of the House commissions an artist (sometimes a professional, sometimes a student) to decorate an ornament in a way that celebrates his or her House district. Year after year, Julie has done great work coordinating this project.

This year, I asked local artist Cruz Ortiz to create an ornament celebrating San Antonio's upcoming Tricentennial. The District 121 ornament features an artistic depiction of the Alamo, as well as the numeral "300" in bright colors to celebrate San Antonio's vibrant history.

The Christmas tree will be in the House chamber until January 2. If you visit the chamber before then, you can flip through a book that explains the story behind each ornament, and there is also a map to help you find your House district. And if you happen to visit on December 18, you may hear the choir from Madison High School in North East ISD singing in the Capitol rotunda.

If you visit, also be sure to stop by the Capitol Gift Shop, where you can purchase the official 2017 Capitol ornament. Every year, the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association delivers trees for the Capitol in a horse-drawn carriage. This year's official Capitol ornament features a coachman with his white steed and carriage in order to celebrate the annual tree delivery. Proceeds benefit preservation of the state Capitol and educational efforts. You can learn more the ornament or purchase it at this link.

Of course, the holidays are about so much more than decorations. Last week, members of my staff and others who work in and around the Capitol collected, wrapped, and donated gifts for children in foster care. Julie also leads this campaign, which is called Holiday Wishes, and works with Partnerships for Children, which helps Central Texas children in need. I am grateful for the members of my staff and other legislators' staffs who give so generously to this effort every year.

I know that many of you are especially charitable at this time of year, and I want to thank you for all that you do to help your fellow Texans. The people of this state have shown an overwhelming amount of compassion and generosity during this year, which has had no shortage of trying moments. Now that the end of the year is fast approaching, Julie and I would like to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season.