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Toilet paper, first responders, dogs, grandkids: What Inquirer readers are thankful for in 2020 | Opinion

The Inquirer Opinion team recently asked our readers to share what they are giving thanks for this year.

Be grateful, above all else, you're not a turkey.
Be grateful, above all else, you're not a turkey.Read moreJacquelyn Martin / AP

The Inquirer Opinion team recently asked our readers to share what they are giving thanks for this year.

Grateful for laughter

The chuckles of my husband that I hear coming from the kitchen as he reads the comics or from his home office as he comes across a medical writer’s joke. The quiet laughter with my 91-year old mother when we share memories of her life. The giggles from my 21-month old granddaughter when I make funny sounds while playing. The long deep belly laughs with my 5-year-old grandson because we are just so silly together. It has been a hard year, a hard 4 years really, but an especially hard year. Laughter is truly the best medicine. I am thankful for laughter. — Laura Harting, Downingtown

Birth of granddaughter

This Thanksgiving will be like no other time in our lives as we celebrate having our beautiful granddaughter, Myla, home with us. Myla was born 3-1/2 months premature on March 18 and weighed only 1 lb. 6 oz. For the past eight months, we didn’t know if we should have hope because her condition was critical. Thanks to the wonderful nurses, doctors, therapists and staff of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, Myla came home on Nov. 11 to finally join our family. I am so grateful for the care that she received at these hospitals. I am also very proud and in awe of her parents, Michael and Ann, for the love and care that they give to her to keep her alive with a ventilator, feeding tube and suction equipment. I thank God with a heart full of gratitude for our blessings. Our Thanksgiving is every day! — Patricia M. Duffy, Cherry Hill

Provisions of toilet paper

During the past eight months of the pandemic, I’ve kept every empty toilet paper tube displayed conspicuously in a large bowl on the dining room credenza. Each humble cardboard tube serves as a remembrance of our provisions and our gratefulness for them. Yes, we joined the multitudes searching for that one roll of toilet paper hidden in the back of the shelf. Yet, in all of this time, I’ve never lacked one square of this valuable asset! While the bowl won’t be used as a Thanksgiving centerpiece this year, it is a daily reminder of our many blessings during this time of COVID. Maybe this activity is one of those odd behaviors bought on by stress and uncertainty but it has carried me through these strange days with just a touch of humor while reminding me of our vulnerable humanity. — Leslie Wise, Erdenheim

Gov. Tom Wolf

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for Gov. Tom Wolf. I believe his early and forceful response to the pandemic saved the lives of many Pennsylvanians. As the early months of the pandemic unfolded, it became increasingly clear that the decision-making of governors was the single most significant variable impacting the lives and health of Americans. As I compared Governor Wolf with his counterparts around the country, I felt extremely lucky to have him at the helm in this dark and dangerous time. Prior to March 2020, I thought of Gov. Wolf as a “nice guy.” I viewed him as honest and ethical but, in all honesty, didn’t see him as an especially strong leader. Fortunately I was wrong. He rose to the occasion with humanity and intelligence. Among those in political leadership positions at various levels of government, he is my one and only “COVID hero.” I am thankful that he is my Governor. — Andrew Gelber, Philadelphia

Surviving COVID

My family and I are grateful that my husband, suffering from one of the earliest serious cases of Covid this spring, has recovered with only a couple of minor lingering effects. We are humbled and grateful for all the doctors and nurses at Crozer Chester Medical Center, especially in the ICU, who took excellent care of him over 37 days, including 11 days on a ventilator. We also greatly appreciate the staff at Delaware County’s Fair Acres, who provided physical therapy to get him strong enough to return home. Finally, we are beyond grateful to our families, friends, Swarthmore neighbors, local businesses, our work colleagues, and others who swooped in to provide food, flowers, heartfelt notes of encouragement, errand-running, and emotional support from a distance while we struggled with the uncertainty that the sudden illness brought. We feel fortunate for my husband’s recovery and for our support system. — Virginia Thompson, Swarthmore

To be alive

When I wake in the morning and my feet touch the floor, I am thankful that I lived to see another day. When I go for a run, I am grateful for my healthy lungs and strong legs. And, when I sit in the park and read on a crisp Fall afternoon, I am thankful for the warm sunshine on my face and for the adorable squirrels scampering on a carpet of colorful leaves. Life is truly a visual feast every day. All of us need to take a seat at the table and enjoy the simple pleasures. — Carol A. Pasquarello, Philadelphia

I’m grateful for COVID-19, but let me be clear as to why: I’m not grateful for a single death, let alone a quarter million - better lives be saved than lessons learned. But virtually all of us have learned to live deeper and more joyous lives resisting the death that surrounds us. When skies clear in spring, let’s remember how our new world came to be. — William Crawford Woods, West Chester

Since I’ve managed to stick around for 94 years, I guess the first thing I’m thankful for is I’m still alive. I am also thankful to be living in the first country in 3000 or so years of recorded history that was founded by people who would govern themselves. What a novel idea. OK, so it ain’t perfect but it ain’t bad either and since it has only been in existence about 300 years, it might be considered a teenager among nations and like all teenagers, it takes a little time to mature. I’m even thankful for protests because they prove we’re trying. I’m thankful for our diversity because it’s our strength. — Ralph D. Bloch Jenkintown

Philly’s murals

Don’t you hate those millennials who are glued to their phones, walking down the middle of the sidewalk? Yeah, hi! That was me pre-COVID bumbling around to work or a happy hour. Cue the pandemic. With nowhere to be at no particular time, I’ve unplugged more than ever and found myself looking up to realize that our city is absolutely flush with beautiful murals. If you don’t believe me, walk a few blocks and turn 360 degrees at each intersection. Not only did I see murals on routes I regularly took, but I also saw some become obscured by construction (and painted over during the protests … bye, Rizzo) and a few new additions, even during these weird times. I became so intrigued by them that I curated a two-mile tour. I’m so grateful to have the privilege to share this life-sized art exhibit with my friends, with masks of course! — Su Fen Lubitz, Philadelphia

Giving back

Thankful that I, my wife and our family are healthy, that I have a home to live in, a job to support us, and food on our table. Also for a community that cares for and about us and the very good fortune to be able to help others by caring for them. I’m thankful to be able to provide financial assistance to others though our church and various other charities, such as West Kensington Ministries and Crossroads in North Philadelphia. We give every year, but this year more than most, it’s vital all of us give what we can to those who need it. Finally I’m very thankful for the feeling that being able to give provides me with joy, and hope and love. — John Shaffer, Jamison

Peace, good health and Biden-Harris administration

My sobriety, safety, health, faith, friends, family, and the victory of the Biden-Harris in the presidential election. — Patricia Joseph, Valencia


This year I’m grateful to still have a job and a way to support myself, as I know many people who have lost work because of the pandemic. I’m also extremely grateful to live with close friends who have made this time less isolating. I adopted a cat from PAWS in April and she’s brought so much comfort and joy into our home. I’m endlessly thankful to all the healthcare workers in Philly for what they do. — Melissa Goyette, Philadelphia

For Thanksgiving

Being thankful and being content very much go hand in hand for me. Recently, my memories began drifting back to the big, raucous, happy family holidays that I miss, and I began imagining future gatherings. It ultimately became tough to be genuinely thankful for all I do have, because all I could think about was what was missing. I found that for me to be truly thankful requires a level of contentment with a very different life now. Learning to be thankful has required me to narrow my focus to the here and now, deliberately recognize what I do have, and to not dwell on what I am missing, especially during Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday. I am slowly learning to become content, and in doing so, am learning to be ever more thankful. — Maggie Beck, Palmyra

Wo(man)’s best friend

This year has been the roughest decade of my life, a feeling most likely true for all of us. So much is different. I won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, still, I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my 13-year old Pomeranian and loving companion. He’s made me laugh and helped me relax when I needed it most. I am grateful that my family and friends are safe and my thoughts remain with those affected. Most of all, I am thankful that a family friend, who very recently battled breast cancer, has come through her surgery, is home safe and healing well. She has shown such strength and grace through it all and has inspired me during this difficult time. I’ve come to realize that, although things are bad right now, I am still one of the lucky ones. — Kristina Cohen, Cape May

Virtual Thanksgiving

When this city girl moved to rural northern New York 62 years ago as a bride, I decided to make my first Thanksgiving. There was no such thing as “store-bought” desserts, so I learned through trial and many errors to make my own. Now, even though I live in Philly, I still make all of the desserts and they are the high point of dinner. The kids and grandkids come from CA, CO, as well as right down the street. One year I decided to take the easy way out and instead of making all of the desserts, bought Costco’s apple pie, which is really good. I didn’t say a word about substituting their pie for mine. We’re all at the table eating the variety of happy endings when my CA daughter looked up and said, “Mom, I didn’t fly 3,000 miles for Costco’s apple pie.” I am thankful that my children care enough to stay home because I am medically compromised and hopeful that next year we can all be together for my favorite holiday. So this will be the first time in 62 years that I haven’t made Thanksgiving dinner as none of the kids want to put their grandpop or me at risk. We will all Zoom (yes, this octogenarian has learned how) and for the first time we will do curbside pick up from Ryan Christopher’s. But oh, how I will miss all the hugs! — Marian Levin, Merion Station

Religious freedoms and constituents

First and foremost, would be the right of religious freedom this country allows and then would be my husband, Rick and our family. Thankful for doctors, nurses, first responders and all those who work so tirelessly for our community and are dealing with this years challenges. Thankful for pharmaceutical companies getting a vaccine ready to go and trying to save lives. Thankful for those providing food and housing for those without. I am also very thankful for all of my constituents, for they make my job worth doing. May you all stay safe and healthy. — Councilwoman Anita L. Barton, Conshohocken


This year as our family is scattered, I am most grateful for one thing. I am simply and most humbled to have my family alive. From my 95-year old mother to a fairly young great niece in Israel, we are alive. By our faith in God and lots of caution we have survived. And now with modern medicine, perhaps we can get a grip on COVID-19 and perhaps learned some valuable lessons on life. Nothing counts more than family. — Lois Canter, Cherry Hill

First responders and essentials

Give thanks to all the men and women in our military, first responders, and medical teams who keep us healthy and safe from harm’s way. Also to all who produce, deliver, and service our daily needs in agriculture, transportation, retail, and other essential needs. A message of gratitude to all our government workers who perform the necessary tasks in education and municipal services. Let us not forget our religious community, entertainment, and sports which gives us a sense of faith and enjoyment with their dedication and talent. Try to remember those less fortunate by contributing your time or resources to assist in their physical, emotional, or medical needs. Bob Sweeney, Warwick, RI