WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — America needs a big hug and hot cocoa following the nutty 2016 campaign season.
From the Trump-Clinton ugliness to the battle for control of the Senate, it’s been overwhelming for nearly everyone – particularly those in the middle of the maelstrom.
What better way to recharge than to head home, sit back and spend time with family.
That’s exactly what senators do when the U.S. Senate officially gavels into recess for Thanksgiving.
Sen. Jeff Merkley heads back to the Pacific Northwest, dicing up potatoes to make dinner for a homeless youth program.
He supported fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Democratic primary but eventually came to champion the nominee and urged other progressives to make nice with Clinton backers.
Merkley’s all about nature, so over the holidays he enjoys spending time in the mountains of Oregon.
Sen. Mazie Hirono has the longest commute of any senator, totaling at least nine hours from Washington to Honolulu.
But once she’s home, it’s paradise.
While in the Aloha State, Hirono pitches in with Meals on Wheels to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need.
South Dakota (R)
Sen. John Thune is Republicans’ No. 3 in the Senate and attends hometown football games in Argus to cheer on No. 5, his nephew Jett.
The South Dakota senator is famous for his sweet tooth so you can bet he’ll be polishing off a pecan pie this turkey day.
Family traditions make the holidays special and the Cruz clan has a competitive one deep in the heart of Texas: Cuban coffee and dominoes.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who threw down with President-elect Donald Trump a time or two in GOP debates, loves the “smack-talk” that accompanies his family’s high-stakes board game competitions.
Sen. Rob Portman is a senator’s senator.
He’s a policy expert with a firm grasp of party, political maneuvering and parliamentary procedure.
While in the Buckeye State, Portman takes a dip into yesteryear, hopping in a Model-T and taking a spin around town.
New York (D)
The old joke in Washington is that Sen. Chuck Schumer’s best friends are the cameras that follow him around everywhere.
The native New Yorker, who was just elected as the Democrat’s new Senate leader, is always good for a soundbite and never turns down a photo opp.
Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2015, Schumer spent time with a bunch of turkeys (at a farm, not the Capitol).
New York (D)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand replaced Hillary Clinton in 2009 when she became President Obama’s secretary of state.
She is known to let her kiddos tag along at the Capitol (where they’re fawned over by fellow senators), and spends quality time with her tight-knit family over the holidays.
Last year, Sen. Marco Rubio spent his Thanksgiving doing interviews for his presidential bid, which eventually fizzled out.
What a difference a year makes.
This November he’s a newly re-elected senator with a young family and a six-year term ahead of him.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales