33 Things To Be Thankful For

turkeycookieThanksgiving usually doesn’t compel us to sit down and compile a list of all the things we’re thankful for. But this isn’t a usual Thanksgiving. Friends, family and colleagues have had to cope with an epic hurricane, and we’ve just made it through one of the most contentious, nasty and expensive presidential elections in U.S. history.

So we decided it was a good time to reflect and remind ourselves of all the things we should be thankful for -- earthquakes, hurricanes, power outages and all.  We think we’ve found a lot of things, big and small, that you’ll be thankful for, too.

20 women in the Senate. The 113th Congress will have 20 female senators, the most ever in U.S. history. Senators Maria Cantwell, Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Debbie Stabenow all won their re-election bids. Newcomers include Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Deb Fischer (Neb), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

A holiday that does not fall on a Monday. We’ll take any holiday we can get, but right now, we really need two days off, not one.


Steroids. Seriously. My two year-old got croup a few weeks ago. The standard treatment, when the coughing gets really bad, is to bring her outside into the cold air, shrinking the swelling of her vocal cords and letting air into her lungs. Thanks to this wacky weather we’ve been having, there was no cold air. It was 55 degrees out. The doctor gave us steroids for her, which took down the swelling and no doubt relieved us of at least one midnight trip to the emergency room.

People who say, “Come over. No problem.” When you tell someone your power’s been out for 10 days, you get one of two responses. Either, “Oh, that’s awful. Let us know what we can do,” or “Come over. It’s no problem.” I’m thankful for the people who say, “No problem.”

Other people’s kids. It’s fine if you totally lose it while you’re couch-hopping in search of heat. The real disaster is if the kids lose it, because then everyone’s miserable. If the kids see your suddenly peripatetic lifestyle as one big roving playdate, you’ll be okay. For that, you need other people’s kids. Thanks, everyone, for lending them.

Gas rationing. Yes, it brings back memories of the 70s (if you’re old enough to have such memories). But you know what? It works.

The small garden in the backyard that serves up fresh parsley, mint, sage, rosemary and, thanks to a mild California fall, some late-blooming tomatoes.

Work that we enjoy and that brings us joy -- as well as the paycheck and health insurance.

Friends who care and let us vent when we need to vent, cheer us up when we need cheering, edit our essays late at night and who make the time to share the moments that make life fun and interesting.

Shoes. Cowboy boots, loafers, pumps, slingbacks, slippers, whatever. It’s true. You can never have too many.

Pot-luck Thanksgivings. Everyone has their favorite part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but dinner doesn’t need to take hours to make. Have everyone pitch in. And then enjoy turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and stuffing for lunch the next day.

Women who help other women. That should be all of us, we know. But just sometimes, it’s not.

The Oscar Awards. Because of the Oscars, for a brief period at the end of each year, movie theaters actually show films meant to appeal (at least nominally) to thinking adults. Similarly, thank you to the folks who brought us Moonrise KingdomArgoSkyfall and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Also, we are thankful The Twilight movie series has finally, mercifully come to an end.

Good health, and especially being able to walk up a flight of stairs or a hill or racing half a block for the bus or train without getting winded.  

The kids. And, of course, time away from the kids.

The awesome staff at the nursery school, elementary school, middle school and high school. Really. Teachers should get hazard pay for spending that much continuous time with kids. We applaud you.

Hand-me-downs. We called our kids “the free babies” for the longest time because of all the fine hand-me-downs we received. The flow of free stuff is slowing to a trickle as the kids grow, but now we get to pass clothes and toys down to other families.

Left-overs. If you have the energy to cook every night, we want what you eat for breakfast!

This macaroni and cheese recipe, from Ina Garten. Yes, it’s over the top, but it feeds an army.  

A hot, uninterrupted shower after a long day.

Good books, especially e-books that empower quirky, independent and less commercial writers to get their work out.

Meetings that last 30 minutes or less.

Napping on the couch, with the sun streaming through the window.

Beautiful music, whether it’s The Beatles' Twist and Shout, Adele singing anything from 21, Chopin’s Nocturnes played by Arthur Rubinstein or Julie Andrews belting out I Have Confidence in "The Sound of Music" wearing that awful gray dress. You go, Julie!

That our kids like each other, mostly. 

Wool socks, flannel sheets, fleece throws, down comforters, fuzzy slippers, thick sweaters, soft scarves and comfy hats.

Museums, public libraries and state and county parks. Our tax dollars at work.

Fresh-baked bread, fresh-baked pretzels, fresh-baked chocolate and almond croissants and really good fudge. Not necessarily in that order.

Being able to hug someone we love, and having someone we love hug us back.

A nice bowl of hot soup. Our favorites can be found here.

A handwritten letter or postcard, received unexpectedly.

The ObamasUseful technology. Though Twitter has been around for a while, the “tell me something in 140-characters or less service” really shows off its useful side in cases of natural disasters and other major events, like the election. We might not always agree with what everyone is saying or sharing, and we may not find everything that’s been shared all that interesting, useful or compelling. But it has its moments -- like offering up what has turned out to be the most viral photo ever shared. It shows the President and his wife embracing during the midst of the campaign. The photographer, Scout Tufankjian, says it captures the Obamas’ “deep love and respect for one another.” That’s something that we all, politics aside, should be able to get behind. -- Connie Guglielmo and Kimberly Weisul

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Photos courtesy of flickr user BigSisLilSis and the Obama campaign



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