What We’re Thankful for This Year

4 min


Melissa Kirsch

What We’re Thankful for This Year

Welcome. It’s Thanksgiving, and for many of us it’ll be smaller and quieter than in years past. I recommend taking a minute to read Mark Vanhoenacker on how he’s fending off sadness at not being with family for the holiday; it might broaden your perspective. And check out Sam Sifton on adding new flavors to your Thanksgiving dinner — in the absence of a crowd, you too might veer from the traditional menu and “play the deep cuts.” (I like the sound of a pumpkin layer cake with caramel buttercream.)


My own Thanksgiving plans have been scuttled this year, but I’m looking forward to taking a walk through Brooklyn with some of my crew and eating turkey breast sandwiches en route (weather permitting). When it gets dark, I’ll get on a video call with the people I’m missing and we’ll indulge in everyone’s most- and least-favorite holiday custom: reciting what we’re thankful for.

I asked you last week what you’re feeling gratitude for this year and certain things came up repeatedly: health, therapy, family that’s come home to quarantine, support systems and, especially, the internet, for the video schooling, socially-distanced visits, information, entertainment and online shopping it provides. Check out some of the other replies below.

  • “With my job demands doubled but my paycheck halved, my folks made space in their overcrowded flat for me. Almost drowning in a debt of my own making, their generosity has helped me to get back on track, financially and professionally.” —Gwendolyn Ledger, 47, Santiago, Chile

  • “This year I’m going to make more of an effort to let my co-workers know how much they mean to me. I work in the nursing program at Mercy College. I am grateful to be part of such a wonderful team. We are working hard to graduate smart, caring, competent and “tough” New York nurses. This year it is clear that it is more important than ever.” — Karen K., New York

  • “I am thankful for my husband’s mechanical prowess that has kept my ancient bicycle rolling all through the pandemic.” —Lindsay O., 64, Chicago

  • “I’m grateful because I survived Covid-19 and so did my parents. Particularly my dad, a 72-year-old diabetic, who spent 19 days at the hospital with oxygen. Our perspective on our lives is surely different after these months and what I’m most grateful for is that now I really try to enjoy each day as if it was the last.” —Emilio Herrera, 23, Monterrey, Mexico

  • “I’m thankful that my limited accessibility to social interactions has me placing greater attention on my friendships during those rare, in-person meetings. For example, during a socially-distanced cocktail hour with neighbors last weekend, I begged my wife for “just ten more minutes” when we had to leave. It was a comically juvenile response, but the sentiment was true.” —Matt Cascarino, 49, Buffalo

  • “I am grateful for the woman who walked by me on the street and smiled, reminding me that there are still ways to connect with people from a distance. We were both wearing masks, but I could tell that she smiled; you know how sometimes you can just tell?” —Rebecca S., 25, Brooklyn

As for me, I’m thankful for this recording of John Prine and Kurt Vile playing Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” and “Sam Stone” in Philadelphia in 2018. The smell of wood-burning fireplaces wafting through the window on recent chilly nights. And this profile of the writer Shirley Jackson, from which I learned that the last words in her journal were “I am the captain of my fate. Laughter is possible laughter is possible laughter is possible.”


How are you spending Thanksgiving? What’s on your mind? Write to us: athome@nytimes.com. We love to hear from you. We’re At Home and we’ll read every letter sent. And there’s more inspiration for leading a good life at home over the holiday and every day below.

Credit…Craig Frazier
  • Let’s stop calling it a “food coma” and embrace the time-honored tradition of the Thanksgiving nap.

  • The writers and editors of Well have put together a healthy living gift guide, just in time for postprandial online shopping.

  • And we’ll help you game Black Friday travel deals so you can save on a vacation for next summer and beyond, when the virus may be more controlled.

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.
  • Most of us are having smaller Thanksgiving dinners than usual this year. We’ve got recipes for turkey, sides and dessert that are perfect for an intimate celebration.

  • It’s never too early to start thinking about leftovers. Sohla El-Waylly has creative ideas for what to do with all that stuffing.

  • I might be the only person who didn’t try a cronut when they were at their height of trendiness several years ago, so I might order a box of the chef Dominique Ansel’s hybrid pastry for myself, available for home delivery in the contiguous United States from Dec. 3 at least until the end of the year.

Credit…Sandy Honig

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