We asked Times readers to tell us in less than 100 words what they were grateful for this year — a style of storytelling popularized by The Times Tiny Love Stories. We received nearly 1,500 submissions, touching on everything from big moments of gratitude, like a life-saving drug or the birth of a child, to everyday joys, like ice cream and exercise.
Here are some of the responses we received:
Spaghetti pie and laughter
Halfway through a five-year goodbye to my father, I forgot what his laughter sounded like. After his death a few months ago, my siblings and I recovered three treasures. Presents, really: a recipe card for spaghetti pie, an experimental dinner he once made for us that was as gross as it sounds; a photo of him dressed up as a turkey, something he almost always did on Thanksgiving just to embarrass us; and mock commercials he recorded ten years before his illness. In the video glitches I heard his laughter again – a breathy “bah” not unlike my own.
— Carrie Friedman, 45, Los Angeles
A close neighbor
Your “hello” waves, your hopping gait as you mow our lawn since it’s right next to yours. Her spicy chicken curry when our third was born. your ‘Stop!’ when my son’s green ball rolled onto the street and I wasn’t there. Her giant trampoline filled with little feet from each house. You send the kids over so I can drink coffee in silence. Passing on the dinosaur costume you made, a pink dress, puzzles. How you thought of me, how you took care of me and my family in this disconnected world.
— Jenna Jonaitis, 34, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The friendliness of the cashier
I work from home and take a break twice a week to go to the market. I speak to Mirella the cashier as she calls my groceries. I ask about her grandson. She asks about my kids, whom she’s watched grow from stroller to college. This year we’re asking about her sister and my mother, both of whom have Alzheimer’s. The brutal illness deprives both of us, and as a part-time carer, the sad weight of it all can be very heavy. But twice a week someone I’ve never seen outside of the market comes up to me and I’m grateful.
— Emily Franklin, 50, Boston
“Swordfish Trombones. Interested?’
A tiny record store opened up in our tiny town in Northern California. I’m a vinyl junkie and became an instant regular. Now one of the owners knows my taste so well that he writes me at random: “Mule Variations and Swordfish trombones. Interested?” I care for my disabled husband 24/7. The owners hold the LPs for me until I can make it. Their shop is a beacon of hope and nostalgia in a life that can be sad.
— Annalisa McMorrow, 53, Point Reyes Station, California.
A new life
Three years of heartbreak.
Nine months of hopeful worry.
And now high spirits.
Astrid is finally here!
— Madelaine Driskill, 34, Colorado Springs
The miracle of medicine
I saw his wet eyes. He was horrified. “Will I make it, Doc?” he asked, as many had before. He had AIDS and Covid-19, the two diseases that shaped my career, and monkeypox, the new one that brought back the fears and stigma of the ’90s. I remembered a time, not too long ago, when I would have had little to offer but compassion…not now, not anymore. I gave him antiretrovirals, a monoclonal antibody, and after a call to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TPOXX and cidofovir. I’m grateful that I was able to answer, “Yes, I think so.”
— Pablo Tebas, 61, Philadelphia
“Too tight football shorts”
We gather in the field around 7:30am, enough time to apply wraps, balms and braces and roll out tired limbs. Our bellies, stuffed into our favorite English football shirts, hang over the elastic of our shorts. The game begins and the thump thump of the foot on the ball is punctuated by the usual insults: “That goal’s over there, Mike.” Everything is forgotten for an hour: the nightly argument with the wife, the dwindling bank balance, the polite rejection at work. We’re together and we’re playing a game we love. I’m thankful for old men in football shorts that are too tight.
— Barak Goodman, 59, Brooklyn, New York
I’m armpit deep in a pool with 50 other aqua aerobics women of a certain age, kicking as high as I can while pumping my water weights down and as far as I can. “Harder,” yells the leader. “Higher.” We howl and obey. Our group of women faithfully stomp, kick, punch and jump 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 infinitely grateful for everything.
— Barbara Hart, 77, Cincinnati
“An honest craftsman”
It’s been a tough week and I was exhausted driving home from the airport. Suddenly the engine just stopped. I came to a stop on the shoulder of a busy freeway. I called a tow truck and my car ended up at a nearby repair shop. That would be expensive. I called a cab and came home. The next morning the shop called and said the bill was $10. What? Turns out I ran out of gas, not broke. He could have billed me for everything but I found an honest mechanic.
— John Parker, 69, Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Short and sweet
I am thankful for my family and my ice cream.
— Noah Pasco, 6, New York City
Coincidence or a spiritual affliction?
The day after your death in May, a mourning dove began visiting my garden for the first time. He would often emerge after I sat down at the wooden table and seat me on a nearby branch while his small, feathered body vibrated in a series of coos. I jokingly called him TJ – an inversion of your name – and whether he came by accident (as you would have argued) or through 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: in me and in all who love 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 gays were just beginning to question marriage laws. We bought the first book written about planning a gay wedding. On February 10th, 1997, we met 75 friends and got married. It has not been legally recognised. But nothing could stop us. For 15 years we traveled to any state or country that would issue 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, NY