We asked Times readers to tell us what they were thankful for this year, in fewer than 100 words — a storytelling style popularized by The Times’ Tiny Love Stories. We received nearly 1,500 entries that touched on everything from large moments of gratitude, like a lifesaving drug or the birth of a child, to the joys of the mundane, like ice cream and exercise.
Here are a few of the responses we received:
Spaghetti Pie and laughter
Halfway through a five-years-long goodbye with my father, I forgot what his laugh sounded like. After his death a few months ago, my siblings and I recovered three treasures. Gifts, really: a recipe card for Spaghetti Pie, an experimental dinner he made for us once that was as disgusting as it sounds; a photo of him dressed as a turkey, something he did most Thanksgivings just to embarrass us; and mock infomercials he’d recorded a decade before he got sick. In the video bloopers, I heard his laugh again — a breathy “pah” not unlike my own.
— Carrie Friedman, 45, Los Angeles
A neighborly neighbor
Your ‘hello’ waves, your bouncy gait as you mow our lawn since it’s right next to yours. Your spicy chicken curry when our third was born. Your ‘stop!’ when my son’s green ball rolled into the street and I wasn’t there. Your giant trampoline filled with little feet from every house. Your ‘send the kids over’ so I could sip coffee in silence. The passing down of the dinosaur costume you made, a pink dress, puzzles. How you thought of me, looked out for me and my family in this disconnected world.
— Jenna Jonaitis, 34, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The kindness of the cashier
I work from home, taking twice-weekly breaks to walk to the market. I talk to Mirella the cashier as she rings up my purchases. I ask about her grandson. She asks about my kids, who she has seen grow from stroller to college. This year, we check in about her sister and my mother, who both have Alzheimer’s. The brutal disease is robbing us both, and as part-time caregivers, the sad weight of it all can be a lot. But twice a week, someone I’ve never seen outside the market checks in with me and I’m grateful.
— Emily Franklin, 50, Boston
A tiny record store opened up in our tiny Northern California town. I am a vinyl junkie and immediately became a regular. Now, one of the owners knows my tastes so well, he’ll text me randomly: “Mule Variations and Swordfishtrombones. Interested?” I’m the round-the-clock caregiver for my disabled husband. The owners hold the LPs for me until I can make it in. Their store is a bright spot of promise and nostalgia in a life that can be sad.
— Annalisa McMorrow, 53, Point Reyes Station, Calif.
A new life
Three years of heartache.
Nine months of hopeful concern.
And now elation.
Astrid is finally here!
— Madelaine Driskill, 34, Colorado Springs
The miracle of medicine
I saw his wet eyes. He was terrified. “Will I make it, doc?” he asked, like many had done before. He had AIDS and Covid-19, the two diseases that marked my career, and monkeypox, the new one that was bringing back the ’90s fears and stigma. I remembered a time, not long ago, when I would have had little to offer beyond my compassion … not now, not anymore. I gave him antiretrovirals, a monoclonal antibody and, after a call with 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
‘Too-tight soccer shorts’
We gather at the field around 7:30 a.m., enough time to apply wraps, balms and braces, and roll out tired limbs. Our bellies, stuffed into our favorite English football jerseys, overhang the elastic of our shorts. The game begins and the thump, thump of foot on ball is punctuated by the usual insults: “The goal is over there, Mike.” For an hour, all is forgotten: last night’s shouting match with the wife, the dwindling bank balance, the polite rejection at work. We are together, playing a game that we love. I’m grateful for old men in too-tight soccer shorts.
— Barak Goodman, 59, Brooklyn, N.Y.
I am armpit deep in a swimming pool with 50 other water-aerobic women of a certain age, kicking as high as I can while pumping my water weights down and as far as each will go. “Harder,” the leader yells. “Higher.” We yelp and obey. Our group of women faithfully stomp, kick, punch and leap because we love it here. We love each other and support each other. We have seen the dark side of life, and are here to live and laugh and even move. There is no fat shaming here. I am mighty grateful for it all.
— Barbara Hart, 77, Cincinnati
‘An honest repairman’
It was a tough week and I was exhausted as I drove home from the airport. Suddenly the engine just cut off. I drifted to a stop on the shoulder of a busy highway. I called a tow truck and my car ended up at a nearby repair shop. This was going to be expensive. I called a cab and got home. The next morning the repair shop called and said the bill was $10. What? Turns out I had run out of gas, not broken down. He could have charged me anything, but I found an honest repairman.
— John Parker, 69, Pawleys Island, S.C.
Short and sweet
I’m grateful for my family and ice cream.
— Noah Pasco, 6, New York City
A coincidence or a spiritual visitation?
The day after you died in May, a mourning dove began visiting my backyard for the first time. He often appeared after I sat at the wooden table, perching on a nearby branch as his small, feathered body vibrated into a series of coos. I jokingly named him TJ — an inverse of your name — and whether he came by coincidence (as you would have argued), or a spiritual visitation (as my mystical mother suggested), he stayed for several weeks. Talking to him filled me with gratitude and reminded me that you live on: within me and everyone who loves you.
— Natalie Jabbar, 36, Bay Area 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 gay men were just beginning to challenge marriage laws. We bought the first book written about planning a gay wedding. On Oct. 4, 1997, we gathered with 75 friends and married. It was not 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 New York State and finally the United States. Love and perseverance.
— M. Eve Elzenga, 69, Rochester, N.Y.