Thankful for what?
With Thanksgiving upon us last week, I was curious about what inspires gratitude among the givers of thanks, so I sent the following message to some people I know and some I don’t.
I'm collecting answers to the following question for a column — if you have a moment, please respond: What are you thankful for?
(And, yes, dear darling sister, I know "for" is a preposition, but occasionally vernacular is the better part of grammar.)
Love, K-BIn retrospect, I admit it was a cowardly question, because I had no certain answer of my own. Whatever teetered on the tip of my tongue felt trite or self-absorbed or even boring (a horror for wearers of my family genes). I was seeking inspiration in other folks’ gratitude — and I found it.
While the responses to my question reveal some common themes, they are uniquely expressed by people of diverse ages, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, faiths, political persuasions and nationalities. Their answers are succinct and verbose, vague and direct, honest and protective, profane and faithful, sorrowful and hilarious, loving and caustic, obvious and surprising, simple and complex, lyrical and crude.
And I’m thankful to them all — strangers, family, new friends and old — for sharing their thanks so generously. If you have something to add, self-edit not! Feel free to post it in a comment.
So, for what are they thankful?
Claes: What comes to mind right away, is all the wonderful friendships I am blessed with. ... As you mentioned grammar, “are” would have been better than “is,” but in the spirit of “is she is or is she ain’t," etc. …
Paul: My wife, children, grandchildren, Read & Critique group, friends, Obama, and the generosity of people everywhere.
Susan: Gosh, so much — wonderful husband two sons who are healthy, self-supporting and liberal (in 2008, the more conservative of the two wished for a presidential candidate who is in favor of gay marriage, not his personal issue) friends all the great memories of an interesting life with more to come
Kris: K-B, you know exactly what I am grateful for. There is nothing more important to me than my boys, of course. Faith, family and friends are my greatest joys in life. My kids have taught me how to appreciate life's precious moments and how to savior every minute we get to spend together.
I also appreciate that my mom set an example of being open and accepting of others. Doing so has enriched my life with such a diversity of friends and loved ones with a vast array of ideals and cultures. I am a better person because of that example.
Alexandra: Hmmm "for" — if you can find the rule about ending sentences with prepositions you are better than I. So far as I know there really isn't a hard and fast rule, just an educated preference … hoity-toity. … Family, friends, and to be alive to share in the wonders of life. I am also thankful to have the good fortune of my health and all necessary creature comforts — a job, clothing, food, and shelter.
Esther: The list is very long! I'm grateful for the re-election of President Obama even though I'm well aware he isn't perfect and doesn't have anything like as much power as many people think. I'm grateful for the hope for our world, which so many of us feel because he is POTUS.
I'm grateful for the renaissance of the women's movement, which the ReThuglicans inadvertently precipitated by waging their stupid War on Women, and which the Internet is facilitating so magnificently.
I'm grateful for the new technology that allows me to connect with people all over the world. Facebook and the Internet allow me to learn, evolve, and work as an activist in previously unimaginable ways.
I'm grateful for my wonderful home and family, my beautiful fur-children and my health. I'm grateful beyond words that I have the incredible privilege of living in the arms of Nature, close to Mother Earth, in the embrace of the Goddess. I'm grateful to be able to look at horses, who, as Alice Walker observed, "make a landscape look more beautiful."
I'm grateful for a life in which I get to write, paint, garden, travel, and read many, many books.
Thanks for asking! I could go on, and on, but probably this is ample for now. :~)
Robert: A good crap.
Mark: I thought your question was a good chance to take a break and give it a deserved answer (and an opportunity to let you know mine is not a dead address on your list). Simple question, simple answer. When I get ready to eat, I take that time to remind myself of what I am thankful for with the following mantra: "I am grateful for the life I have and the abundance in it; I honour the life given in this food that it may nourish my own." More importantly, I try to be mindful when I say it … and mean it. I am truly grateful for the life I have been gifted. If you are looking for categories revealing your study lot's priorities, the question becomes less simple.
Patty: What am I thankful for? That's a big question. I'm thankful most of all right now for a quick recovery from a broken hip and hip replacement surgery just one month ago. And I'm thankful for my dear husband, who took loving care of me, even kneeling at my feet to help me put on my socks. I'm thankful for all the prayers, cards, visits, and phone calls of my many good friends at St. John's church. And I'm thankful that my four children, their wives, their kids, and their kid are all happy and healthy. And I'm thankful that my beautiful granddaughter is marrying a terrific guy this Saturday. And I'm thankful that we live in this beautiful place, with the best climate in the world. And I'm thankful that I am privileged to have a circle of wonderful friends, including that great and witty curmudgeon, KB Gressitt.
Thanks for asking.
Gloria: I'm thankful that San Diego turned very BLUE! 71% of our Dems won their elections.
Renae: Faith, Family and Health
Christina: I am thankful for my friends and family who were there for me during my grueling breast cancer reconstruction surgeries.
Michael: My life in general, especially my family, and dearest of friends who make it so special.
Edward: Romney will spend the rest of his life traveling the world visiting his money.
Molly: An all-encompassing answer … I am most thankful for the gift of life, which, in and of itself, allows us to experience and discern that which we might be thankful for. Kim: Well, I'm tempted to go political — so much to be thankful for this month — but I am most thankful for my beautiful family. … Can I be thankful that my mother-in-law isn't spending Thanksgiving with us this year? We won't be psycho-analyzed, criticized and belittled this year! Woo hoo!
I am also very thankful that Mittens is not our president. Rachel Maddow's post election monologue summed up best for me what I am most thankful for this year. I've thought of this so many times after the election.
Leticia: I am thankful to God for being able to say/feel/think/express that "I am thankful."
Ann: Vernacular is what is ruining the English Language. … For what are you thankful? No war on the US continent.
Lisa: No hospital bills ... meeting you and our friends at MaGee's and spending time just talking … my family … having a job and a home ... still being capable of laughter ... xoxo
Kay: Obama victory
Kim: I am thankful for the simple truth that I have so much to be thankful for, that it is impossible to pick just one thing that is truer than all the others.
Lori: The abundant love of family and friends (furry ones included) The ability to live in a place free from the fear of gunfire and bombs raining down on me (not that there are not communities here in U.S. that do experience this) Living in a beautiful place, replete with natural wonders Laughter Empathy Physical mobility Books!
Linda: I am thankful for my sweet family of course, but I am also thankful for the friendships and snug community of poets in San Diego. I am also thankful to Coursera for offering a wonderful online course, American Modern and Contemporary Poetry. This class of over 35,000 worldwide has also created a community of people who love poetry and are eager to learn and understand the — just this —. Good friends, who endure my flights of fancy, and people I don't like, who teach me things I didn't know about life.
P.S. Pumpkin pie
Marcella: My husband. His basic decency.
Peter: That I have a wonderful partner with whom to share all our thoughts and have complete trust in each other! That I have a great family That I have so many good friends And my health Bottom line: I am happy in my skin and love life.
Joanee: I am thankful for Alan and for knowing you and Steve!
Alan: We are thankful for so many things … good health ... living in beautiful SoCal, the arts, family and especially wonderful friends like K.B and Steve.
(As seen recently, "Here I am, stuffing bread up the end of a dead bird at five in the morning. What a life!")
Trixie: I am thankful for too much! But if I had to narrow it down, it would be for another year to share my gift of writing with others, my parents, family, food, education, job, and, mostly, I am thankful to be well and alive with life.
Jim: Family at home for Thanksgiving. Also, most of the election results.
Dan: I'm thankful that the election is over — and many other things.
Richard: I'm quite sure that an exhaustive list is not what you're looking for, so I will keep it simple and name the thing that I think I am the most thankful for: three healthy (sometimes) happy children.
Carolyn: I am most thankful for a faith, for family and friends, and living in a wonderful, free country.
Susana: Amen, to the crazy usage of prepositions in English, but it works somehow! What am I thankful for, you ask? I am thankful for being able to see and appreciated the beauty around me, in crispy mornings and bright sunshines, in wild greens and deep browns as I drive to work. I am thankful for my ears, for they let me hear the sounds of life. I am grateful for being able to feel the gentle breeze of a warm afternoon and the love of a sweet embrace. I am thankful for the scents that my nose can sense, for they can instantly bring you pleasure and displeasure or transport you to places you had long forgotten. I am thankful for unconditional love, for my parents and family, my husband, who I am so lucky to share my life with, my children, and friends that have come and gone, for they all have touched my life, always for the best. I am thankful for having the privilege to count this country as mine … and realizing that truly the whole world is my country. I am thankful for human compassion and for what moves people to care for others. I am grateful for what I call God in my life, not different, I think, from the omnipotent being that others believe in. I am grateful to realize the power of kindness, perseverance and sometimes just a smile. In summary, I am thankful for being alive!
Brett: Life. And all the beauty that unfolds around it.
Mary: At the risk of sounding so cliche-ish, I am thankful for:
*the abundance in my life *the love I receive and give *my wonderful family and friends *for all the blessings that are on their way, yet to be received
Dick: I'm grateful for lots of things, but especially those who continue to struggle for a better world. It doesn't have to be like this. We can have a peaceful and sustainable world where everyone has enough. May it be so.
Robin: I am thankful for my amazing clients, that I can help them feel better. I am thankful for my family, especially my highly competitive sister who motivates me daily to become the best version of me. And most of all, tequila.
Paris: My family's values. They guide me and my grown children as we navigate our lives into an increasingly complex society.
Kevin: My greatest gift in this world is the ability to make a difference in a child’s life, and my greatest failures have come when I have been unable to do so.
Debbie: I am thankful for my wonderful husband and two fabulous sons. Thankful that we live in the USA at this point in time.
Rachel: Obama won, Mitt Romney did not win, Obama is still President, my cat, my upcoming children's book "Republicans chose a guy named Willard," Mitt Romney's concession speech, Obama's victory speech, that Mitt Romney had a firework show that was supposed to start when he was elected president and he had to cancel it, because Obama won.
Carrie: Being able to think.
Mike: I am thankful for stories like the following.
A young man who'd been raised in the mountains of Mendocino County in Northern California went off to attend college. At Harvard. On one of his first days on campus, he was walking about getting his bearings. Coming in his direction was a Harvardian dressed in his button down, corduroys, cashmere sweater over his shoulders, with sleeves knotted under his chin, tasseled loafers.
"Scuse me," said the hippie kid, "but can you tell me where the library's at?"
The Harvardian paused with disdain and sniffed, "You must be new here at HawVawd."
"Yeah, Dude, just got here."
"Indeed," yawned the preppie, "Well, you need to know we here at HawVawd do not end our sentences in prepositions."
"Aw," said the hippie. "Well, then, can you tell me where the library's at, asshole?"
And now you, dear friend, can be thankful you have an answer for your language maven sister. Always good to have a little holiday cheer to spread around to my friends, you know. Hope you're having a good laugh, Kit. Warm HugZ.
Hope: I am thankful for life. It is good, and I will hate to leave it.
Donna: There are so many things for which I'm thankful, but since I doubt you want them all, here are some that quickly come to mind. 1. I am thankful for the skills and talents with which I've been blessed. 2. I am thankful for a strong sense of self and the comfort that comes with knowing I am capable of handling most situations, facing challenges and obstacles before me, and being joyously responsible for my own happiness and wellbeing. 3. I am thankful for my creativity, wit, and playfulness. 4. I am thankful for my modest upbringing that taught me the value of money, the importance of hard work, and the real worth of time spent playing, thinking, creating, and just being (vs. vacations, trips, toys, spending). 5. I am thankful for people who still care about grammar and punctuation, people who talk about ideas and feelings instead of gossip and politics, and people who know common courtesies and etiquette. 6. I am thankful for the beautiful weather in Temecula, which is not too hot and never too cold. Having grown up in Wyoming, with winter temperatures well below zero (not just below freezing, but well below zero), bitterly frigid winds, and feet and feet of snow, this is a nice change.
Dan: I'm thankful for —
Denise, my wife and the World's Greatest Grandmother my children my grandchildren modern dentistry beer insulin music, especially jazz comic strips mystery novels science fiction novels computers (which I previously considered the work of the devil)
I'm sure there's more, but that's just what comes immediately to mind.
Sherry: Easy, peasy today — I'm thankful for Hillary Clinton's negotiation skills! Go, Hill! A calm voice to soothe the savageness of war!
Kathy: I'm thankful for this moment ... one moment at a time! Thanks for asking!
Beverly: My answer won't be interesting. It is that my health is holding up (at least until tests in Dec.), that Sten is incredibly supportive, and that my mom died two months before I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease — she couldn't have handled it!
BTW, secondarily, I am thankful for an exceedingly knowledgeable personal trainer who has trained the Navy. He is impeccable in guiding the routine that is appropriate for me.
Edith: It depends upon when you ask me. Today, I am grateful for friends who understand and accept me with all my burrs. When I am really down, I am grateful that I am getting old and don't have to continue my uphill search for a partner for too many more years. All the time, I am grateful that I put aside enough money so that I don't have to worry about poverty along with the other stuff. When I am healthy, I am glad I am not ill. All the time, I am glad that my kids and grandkids are happy and well and that they return my love.
Holly: I am grateful for my safe, loving community that continually encourages me in living my life!
Lynne: I am thankful that I am still alive and feeling pretty well, and I am extremely thankful for my wonderful children and grandchildren and good, loyal friends. I am also so thankful that I had a wonderful partner for 30 years and the most loving mother anyone good ever have. Very thankful.
Sharon: One would suppose that 14 months after emergency heart surgery, I'm thankful for being alive. And I am. But the wonderful, surprising thing to come from this is that my twenty-three-years-old son has moved in to help while I continue to have additional symptoms. I have had a chance to know him as a real young man, to see the adult he has become in a way I might never have seen. Kind, strong, patient and brave, he has literally caught me when small strokes send me toward the floor. And most of all, I am thankful for my son's sense of humor, which fills my day with laughter and hope instead of fear.
Shannon: I'm thankful for sunsets and eyes that can see them. (My mom was blind — never take things for granted.)
Gloria: I'm most grateful for Jesus' love in my life and all his gifts to me, including my family, friends, home, talents, happy heart, and promises in the Bible. I thank Him for every day, which is a gift from God.
Jerri: This year, my first thought of "gratitude" goes directly to the Pechanga Tribe for doing what they felt they had to, to return their sacred land to its original owner. They bought the land from Granite and saved all of us [thereby protecting the land and us from a quarry development]. For that, they are heroes.
Lyn: For each morning my eyes open and I can get out of bed on my own For the furry critters that give me unconditional love each day For hot showers, a beautiful place to live, and a quiet neighborhood For music and dance For the spirit of aloha in my life through hula and for the means to visit the Hawaiian islands regularly For books and the ability to read them For masterpieces of theater For friends I can trust For every moment with my precious granddaughter Want me to keep going?
Sabrina: I am thankful for dogs and sanity. And, of course, all the usual, predictable answers.
Penelope: I'm thankful for so many things, but mostly, that we'll be spending our last Thanksgiving with my Mother who is in Hospice for lung cancer, vascular and heart disease. We'll be extra special grateful if we have Christmas with her, too … but she'll be surrounded by her loved ones, that's what counts!
Nicki: I am thankful for so many things. My family, being able to be there for my Mom and take care of her; for the extra patience I seem to have acquired to deal with the challenges in my life; I am thankful that my family and friends were kept safe during the storms; I am thankful for my friends, especially the ones I can turn to in times of crisis; I am thankful that our companies have survived the last few years, and that we have not had to lay anyone off; and, I am thankful that we found Buddy last year, the weekend after Thanksgiving. His presence in our lives has been a comfort, especially his connection with my Mom and how much he means to her.
Shraddha: I am thankful for splashing birds hanging out in the bird bath ... the cry of the hawk riding the wind ... a morning cup of tea … the classroom filled with students in room 16 ... and always, always family and friends.
Colleen: I am thankful for my husband of 43 years who, when bored with retirement, is still ready for a challenge and eager to take me along for the ride. I'm also thankful for world-class authors daring enough to dangle a participle! This, from a Masters in English Literature.
Jennifer: Okay, yes it sounds corny, but I'm pushing 50 and I'm thankful for my health. I'm also thankful that my boobs are small and therefore can only droop so much. I appreciate life and the high quality of life that we enjoy as Americans.
Derek: I am thankful for my family, especially my wife who is my other 3/4s. I am thankful that we have not had to close our doors and we did not have to lay anyone off through these trying times. I am thankful for all my gifts, bestowed upon me by God, that allow me to do what I do. I am thankful to Krieghoff for my new competition gun. I am thankful that I am able to help others make their way through life. I am also thankful for the day off, 70 hours a week is getting old. …
Susan: Love. I am surrounded by loving family and friends.
Jenny: Family, friends, hot showers and my kitty cats!
John: Although not happy to have prostate cancer, I am thankful to have learned about it in time to have a chance at fighting it. A urologist told me, "Mr. Bartelloni, if you hadn't treated this cancer, it would have killed you."
Rachel: First encounters. Second chances. Keeping promises. My baby laughing for no particular reason for the first time. Playing a guitar by the firelight surrounded by friends. Inspiration. The exhaustion that comes from manual labor. The rest that comes after exhaustion.
Amy: My mother and my sisters, who make it possible for me to never feel unloved. For my husband, who always took care of me until it was time for me to take care of him. For my son, who is my biggest blessing in life. For my dad, who always knows what to do. And for Alzheimer's disease, oddly enough; it forced me to get a life of my own. I never thought I could feel thankful for such an awful thing, but I am — for making me stronger, even as my husband gets weaker. And, for all my wonderful women friends who just "know."...
Sarah: I'm grateful that we have enough to live on and can help others get by.
Nancy: To start with, I am thankful for your blog. But I am also thankful without end for the good friendships I have had over the years. Family is so important, but if you are left without much (or any) family, friends are what you want and need and value — and I treasure them deeply for all of the company and love they have offered.
Incidentally, Jon Carroll, columnist in the San Francisco Chronicle, has updated a wonderful Thanksgiving column for years, and it nearly (!) brings me to tears each year.
Millie: I'm thankful for the people in my life. My children, grandchildren, friends, acquaintances, neighbors. Even though I live on Social Security and don't get much, I'm thankful that I feel like I'm the richest person on earth. I have so much love from so many people every day of my life. So many rich people are so needy, and here I have more than my fair share of love around me, surrounding me all the time. I am so thankful for the people who love me. Who needs anything else?
Scott: I'm thankful for my rich life, my sons, my sisters, my remarkable parents, and my many friends. I appreciate, every day, my capacity for thought, creativity and perception. I’m grateful for my health and the health of my sons, a quiet home, a car that runs, and skills that allow me a comfortable income. Grateful for the amazing experiences I've had, the adventures I've enjoyed, and the courage to keep throwing myself at it and try new suits on.
David: My awareness that I have numerous things to be grateful for. I make it a practice, whenever I am depressed, to make a list of these things. For people who are concerned about the human condition. That's at least 47% of us! For the opportunity to contribute my experience, strength and hope. That I know when to quit.
Craig: I'm thankful for my family and for just being alive every day. After 4 heart attacks and 4 strokes, everyday is Thanksgiving for me.
Davey: On my list of things for which to be thankful is a cousin who writes beautifully — what a treat! And I feel grateful to have a president I support — and then again there's the cousin who takes the time to rant so satisfyingly and eloquently about the politics, which have become central to our daily lives. Family and friends are among the noted gifts — dogs! Dogs are good!
Brenda: Your question is a bit tough to narrow down. I am most thankful for 3 things: 1. Meaningful relationships where, in my ego-centered world, I have made a difference, especially at work as a nurse when I only have minutes with individuals who are hurting. 2. My family relationships ... of course with my kids and my immediate family, but this year I am especially thankful for my nephew, who has lived with me for the last year and been an incredible support through the rough waters of parenting. I am also very thankful for all my creature comforts, and that we have not experienced the losses from Sandy as New York and many others places experienced. 3. Any little morsel of time I have to relax, read, ride my bike on a warm sunny day, drink some wine, coffee and chocolate … not together.
What I am not thankful for, though you didn't ask, is that I am incredibly limited intellectually and it truly bothers me, but I push to use everything I do have, to do the best I can. If I only had a brain — sigh. I knew so little about the election, read one or two of your writings, sighed, and feel overall very pessimistic about our country anyway.
Jeannie: My first thought was, family, friends, and food.
Kate: I am thankful for my husband, my health (which is reasonably good for my age), and the opportunity to serve my country for 35 1/2 years in the Foreign Service.
Lila: I'm thankful I'm alive, I have my health, and I live in a great country.
Carol: Thankful for my amazingly talented, extraordinary and loving family and friends (that includes the furry ones) ... all the timely challenges that show up to help me refocus my priorities and appreciate my gifts ... learning from my oops the first time ... the opportunity to love unconditionally.
Lacey: Oops, I guess I'm late in responding. I guess I am most thankful for not having deadlines to meet!!
Thanks, again, all — love, K-B