We asked The Times readers to tell us what they’re grateful for this year in less than 100 words, a storytelling style popularized by The Times’ Little Love Stories. We received nearly 1,500 applications covering everything from big moments of gratitude like a life-saving drug or the birth of a baby to mundane pleasures like ice cream and exercise.
Here are some of the responses we received:
Spaghetti pie and laughter
Halfway through my five-year farewell to my father, I forgot what his laugh sounded like. After his death a few months ago, my brothers and sisters and I found three treasures. The gifts, in fact: a spaghetti pie recipe card, an experimental dinner he cooked for us one day that was as disgusting as it sounds; a photo of him dressed as a turkey, which he did for Thanksgiving to embarrass us; and parody commercials he recorded ten years before he fell ill. In the bloopers of the video, I heard his laugh again—a hoarse “ugh” not unlike my own.
— Carrie Friedman, 45, Los Angeles
Your welcome waves, your brisk walk when you mow our lawn because it’s right next to yours. Your spicy chicken curry when our third was born. Your “stop!” when my son’s green ball rolled out into the street and I wasn’t there. Your giant trampoline is filled with little legs from every house. You “send the children” so that I can silently drink coffee. Transfer of the dinosaur costume you made, pink dress, puzzles. How you thought of me, looked after me and my family in this disconnected world.
— Jenna Yonaitis, 34, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The kindness of the cashier
I work from home, taking breaks twice a week to walk to the market. I’m talking to cashier Mirella while she’s calling my purchases. I ask about her grandson. She asks about my children, who she has seen grow from prams to college. This year we’re testing her sister and my mother, both of whom have Alzheimer’s. A cruel disease is robbing us both, and as part-time caregivers, the sad weight of it all can be great. But twice a week, someone I’ve never seen outside the market comes to me, and I’m grateful.
— Emily Franklin, 50, Boston
Trombone swords. Interested?
A tiny record store has opened in our tiny Northern California town. I am a vinyl addict and became a regular at once. Now one of the owners knows my tastes so well that he randomly writes to me: “Variations of the mule and Swordfish Trombones. Interested? I take care of my disabled husband around the clock. The owners keep the records for me until I get to them. Their store is a bright spot of hope and nostalgia in a life that can be sad.
— Annalize McMorrow, 53, Point Reyes Station, California.
Three years of heartache.
Nine months of hopeful anxiety.
And now delight.
Astrid is finally here!
— Madeleine Driskill, 34, Colorado Springs
Miracle of Medicine
I saw his wet eyes. He was horrified. “Can I make it, doc?” he asked, as did many others. He had AIDS and Covid-19, two diseases that marked my career, and monkeypox, a new disease that brought back the fears and stigma of the 90s. I remembered a time, not so long ago, when I had little to offer but my compassion… not now, not anymore. I gave him antiretrovirals, monoclonal antibodies and, after a call to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TPOXX and cidofovir. I am grateful that I was able to answer: “Yes, I think so.”
— Pablo Tebas, 61, Philadelphia
“Football shorts too tight”
We gather on the field around 7:30 in the morning, enough time to apply wraps, balms and braces, roll out tired limbs. Our bellies, tucked into our favorite English football jerseys, hang over the waistband of our shorts. The game starts and the thumping, kicking of the ball is interspersed with the usual insults: “Goal over there, Mike.” For an hour, everything is forgotten: yesterday’s screaming quarrel with his wife, a declining bank account, a polite refusal at work. Together we play our favorite game. I’m thankful for old people in too-tight football shorts.
— Barack Goodman, 59, Brooklyn, New York
I am up to my armpits in a pool with 50 other female aerobics of a certain age, kicking as high as I can while lowering my water weights and as far as each of them can go. “Stronger,” shouts the leader. “Above.” We scream and obey. Our group of women stomp, kick, hit and jump in good faith because we love it here. We love each other and support each other. We have seen the dark side of life and come here to live, laugh and even move. There is no fat-shaming here. I am very grateful for all this.
— Barbara Hart, 77, Cincinnati
It had been a tough week and I was exhausted driving home from the airport. Suddenly, the engine just stalled. I pulled up on the side of a busy highway. I called a tow truck and my car ended up at the nearest repair shop. It will be expensive. I called a taxi and went home. The next morning, the repair shop called and said the bill was $10. Which? It turned out that I had run out of gas, and not broken. He could take anything from me, but I found an honest repairman.
— John Parker, 69, Paulie Island, South Carolina
short and sweet
I am grateful for my family and ice cream.
— Noah Pasco, age 6, New York
Coincidence or spiritual visitation?
The day after your death in May, a mourning dove flew into my backyard for the first time. He often appeared after I sat down at the wooden table, perched on a nearby branch, as his small, feathered body vibrated into a series of coos. I jokingly named him T.J.—an inversion of your name—and whether he came by chance (as you would say) or as the result of a spiritual visitation (as my mystical mother suggested), he stayed for a few weeks. Talking to him filled me with gratitude and reminded me that you live on: inside me and everyone who loves you.
— Natalie Jabbar, 36, gulf of california
“Love and perseverance”
Our 25th wedding anniversary. We are lesbians. When we met in Portland, Maine in 1994, we were both activists. Lesbians and gays were just beginning to challenge marriage laws. We bought the first book ever written about gay wedding planning. On October 4, 1997, we got together with 75 friends and got married. This has not been legally recognized. But nothing could stop us. For 15 years, we traveled to any state or country that would give us a legal document recognizing us as a couple. Ontario was our first legal marriage; then the State of New York and finally the United States. Love and perseverance.
— M. Eva Elzenga, 69, Rochester, New York