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From walks in the leaves to kids who still hold hands: grateful for the small, regular day stuff

"I am grateful for my adult daughter, who calls me every day just to say hello and my preteen son, who still holds my hand when we walk in parking lots.

Small gestures can mean a lot.
Small gestures can mean a lot.Read moreCathy Rubin

It's easy to be grateful for the big blessings — jobs gained, health maintained — but we asked readers to recall the small but profound moments that make the everyday more extraordinary.

"I am grateful for my adult daughter, who calls me every day just to say hello and my preteen son, who still holds my hand when we walk in parking lots.

Justine Larison, Wilmington

"For about 20 years, I have walked with a cane. It really never hindered me and I didn't think much about it. It was just part of life. But in the last few months, the world has changed. I now need a walker.

Everywhere I go, I have to think about how to manage, how many steps, how far to my destination. I am, as Blanche DuBois would say, dependent upon the kindness of strangers. Thank you to everyone, young and old, who holds a door for me. Thank you to everyone who, unasked, goes out of their way to assist me. It is a momentary thought for them and a great kindness for me. It is much appreciated.

Peggy Hartman, Jenkintown

"Walking slowly to school with my 4-year-old and telling her stories of elves and fairies as we pick up fall leaves.

Lindsey Rosenberg, Elkins Park

"Simple things make me thankful, like the courteous driver who waves me into a lane of traffic, the person in the grocery store who lets me go ahead of them when I only have one or two items, people who smile and wish me a good day. These things don't take much effort, but genuine acts of kindness go a long way. Our world benefits from civility and hopefully encourages all of us to do the same. Pay it forward! Patience, empathy, and graciousness make our time on this beautiful earth a grateful existence.

Maribeth Kenny, Media

"I have bad knees and people see the difficulty I have walking. Since I don't like asking for help, I really appreciate the many strangers who offer assistance. For example, while bending down to retrieve an item at the supermarket, a customer picked it up for me. This might seem like a small thing, but I was truly touched.

Marilyn Solomon, Wyncote

"After many years of disconnection, I am grateful for connection to myself and to others through the humanity of compassion. I am now certain that my life has meaning and I will never truly be alone. Courage has become my best friend. I can stand visible to all who care to see. I learned how to let people touch my soul as I have touched theirs and the world is better off with me in it rather than not. I am pleased for that knowing and the comfort that it brings me every day in the simplest of pleasures. I have accepted the gift of this life and all that it entails.

Nancy M. Alterman, Voorhees

"Summer, usually a time for welcome rest, was anything but. On the first morning of summer vacation, the call came that my beloved mother-in-law had passed. After 73 years of marriage, it came as no surprise that five weeks later, my father-in-law passed away. In between, our dog died and my job was eliminated. In a new assignment, I was feeling rather low the first week of school. As I was escorting first graders to recess, one child jumped out of line and hugged my waist. Looking up to me, she sweetly whispered, "You are my favorite aide." It was exactly what I needed at the exact moment I needed it most.

Margaret Lauhoff, Phoenixville

"My son, Tim Brennan, lives in Nebraska and has a very busy schedule, but he finds the time to call me every day. I'm so lucky to have friends like Linda and Joe Vaszily, who treat me like family.

It is a blessing to have neighbors like Scott Detwiler, who brings in the trash cans and mail for a very sick neighbor. He also helped me many times with the snow, and fixing a lawn mower. A big thank-you to my niece Donna Fagan, who always checks on me.

Olga Brennan,
Gilbertsville, Pa.

"All three of my kids still say "I love you" each time we finish a phone call.

Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein, Elkins Park

"Grateful for the guy who lets me merge into traffic at the Allegheny on-ramp. Thankful for the unexpected pay raise. Thankful to Joe, the Police Academy grad who stopped to help me at my accident scene when everyone else drove around us and beeped. Grateful to the neighbor who tosses my paper up onto my steps. Life is too short not to notice the little things and smile.

Maryann Schumaker Judge, Philadelphia

"I am so very grateful for my sister Pat - she received new lungs and is doing well. I am grateful, too, for the donor. My sister is extremely kind and giving. She is very talented, too. She is my hero and the strongest person I know - I thank God for such a super sister.

Ginny Stewart, Philadelphia

"The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

Several local businesses in my area often donate pizza and/or doughnuts to feed the homeless in Center City. When I receive the generous donations, I stroll the streets and try to reach as many people as possible. I can vividly recall a cold and windy Friday afternoon near 15th and Chestnut Streets when I was struggling to gain control of two full pizza boxes as the wind howled at 25 m.p.h. It was the lunch-time rush. The flow of foot traffic was hectic.

Upon seeing my helpless face and the hunger of the homeless man sitting on the pavement, a well-dressed gentleman quietly approached me and took one of the pizza boxes and simply closed the lid. By doing so, I was able to regain my balance and continue my task at hand. He never said a word. Just performed his act of random kindness and resumed his daily routine.

I will never forget the gentleman's willingness to help a person in need. It served as a good reminder to "pay it forward."

Carol A. Pasquarello, Philadelphia

"I am grateful for all three of my wonderful daughters, but I'm especially grateful this Thanksgiving that we are mindfully enjoying our youngest daughter's last year home before college. I love taking walks with her and listening to her detailed opinions on topics that range from her beloved Phillies to politics to the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Her resilience and unflagging optimism encourage me to remain hopeful.

Allison Uehling, Glenside

"I am most grateful for my grandson, who, while in northern Virginia and being a senior in high school, volunteered to work for the Democratic convention. He stayed with me in my small apartment and loved meeting people and helping in that capacity. He is now a freshman at MIT. I'm looking forward to seeing him and hugging him over Thanksgiving weekend.

Selma Harris Forstater, Philadelphia

"I'm grateful, forever, that I got to stand this close to Springsteen when he visited the Free Library. The world changed for me after that. It became a calmer place. Left me feeling like things are going to be OK.

Jeff Gammage, Elkins Park

"I am grateful for the hermit crab election that was held in my 8-year-old son's classroom this fall. The children energetically designed political platforms, created engaging materials supporting their spiny candidates, and eloquently defended these clawed creatures in town-hall meetings. This crustacean election was handled with exceedingly more respect, grace, honesty, and kindness than its human counterpart, and filled my heart with hope for the future of this country.

Kristen Casel, Media

"If our church priest or deacon has delivered a homily that has made an impression on me, I have sent a note to thank them and ask for a copy of their talk to add to my meditation-journal collection. Invariably, they are appreciative to honor the request. What can be perceived as a one-sided exchange, this gesture is also one of support that their contribution was relevant and motivational. I have come to rely on these reflections in daily life to spread grace, by putting words into action to further faith and the human connection.

Peg Romano, Lumberton

"The most profound moment of 2016 for me (and husband John) happened in late June. When we met our son, John, and his wife, Michelle, for dinner one night, I asked my usual "What's new with you guys?" Michelle quickly responded, "I'm pregnant" while slyly looking to see my reaction. I'm pretty sure it was exactly what she was expecting - surprise, excitement, happiness, tears. I've been secretly hoping to hear those words since their 2014 wedding, and my 60th birthday in February reminded me that I'm not getting any younger. I am so grateful to be experiencing this life-changing event for our entire family, and looking forward to the wonderfulness of being a grandmom. March 2017, here we come!

Cathy Burke, Philadelphia

"Most of 2016 was too full of serious challenges. Yet without the difficulties, I could not have received the gift of gratitude at this most appropriate time of year. I am grateful to my family for keeping our circle intact with love, empathetic support, and steady encouragement during months of disappointed expectations. Everyone helped lighten the burdens, and that made all the difference. As one cannot appreciate sunshine without cloudy days, so it is that the ordinary, easy times of being part of a family are often underappreciated until troubles come to the door. However, troubles are no match for my family, who keeps faith in each other and stays strong for each other. May your family, too, be well.

Jacqueline Poppalardo, Voorhees

"I am thankful for so many blessings, but especially those little arms of my grandchildren who attempt to encircle a lumpy grandmother with their hugs.

Patricia Muro, Bernville, Pa.