It’s been a mad, mad, mad, mad year. Troubling, trying. Yet through the crises and the pain, beautiful moments and people have shone through, in ways big and small.
The neighbors who have picked up prescriptions for elders who couldn’t risk doing it themselves. The mental health professionals who stepped up to offer free phone counseling. The teachers who have brought food and homework help to students and families. The business leaders who have done the right things, for their staff and our city. The trash collectors, the medical professionals, the poll workers. The pets who have comforted us! And, of course, the children: the kids and teens and college students who have modeled resilience and growth for all of us.
We stopped Philadelphians on the street, and reached out to some of our local newsmakers as well, to hear what they’re grateful for this Thanksgiving. We’d love to hear what’s on your list, in the comments below and on social. And we wish all of you a holiday filled with health, safety, peace, gratitude, and good citizenship.
“What I’m grateful for in 2020 is more time in my home. With stay-at-home orders, I had no excuse not to finally clean out those closets, donate the books I’m done reading and the clothes no one’s wearing, and enlarge the container garden on my roof deck (it was a big year for zinnias!).” —Jennifer Weiner, bestselling author, including her most recent hit, Big Summer
“I’m very thankful for the educators and all school staff, who have gone above and beyond, in many cases learning new things, as well as all of our support staff, our counselors, our nurses, our principals—all of these individuals have had to learn new things to do in this virtual environment while taking care of their own families, their own children, who also may be in a virtual setting. So I’m most grateful this week for those individuals and their commitment to the young people here in Philadelphia.” —William R. Hite, Jr., Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
“I am thankful for the next generation of movers and shakers. The interns at Harriett’s are just one example of committed youth powering through daunting times and working to make our city a more fruitful place.” —Jeannine A. Cook, owner, Harriet’s Book Shop
“I’m grateful that my 97-year-old grandmother beat pneumonia, Covid-19, and a heart attack this summer. She’s fully recovered and doing well. I’m grateful we moved back to our beloved Philly during all of this and were able to vote in this critical election in a state where it mattered! I’m grateful my husband and I have jobs. I’m grateful that my son’s preschool reopened in person and that we found a classmate for my daughter to attend virtual school with each day. I’m grateful we live walking distance from my mother and she can help out. So despite this nightmare of a year, there is much to be grateful for!” —Samantha Matlin
“As we enter the holiday season in the midst of this historic pandemic, I am reminded of just how much the health care workers across our community deserve our thanks and appreciation.
There is a natural tendency for all of us to take things for granted. We all assume that if we have a health emergency, there will be people standing by to help us. But that doesn’t occur at a moment like this without enormous sacrifice on the part of the dedicated doctors, nurses and all essential health care workers who staff the hospitals and clinics across our community.
Now more than ever, as they bravely see us through this historic health crisis, they deserve our support and gratitude. On behalf of myself, my family, and the entire Penn community, I express a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the health care heroes of Philadelphia.” —Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania
“I’m thankful for my health, my partner, my dog. I’m also thankful that Biden won—and Kamala. It’s something else to see a woman reach that height (and hopefully she’ll go a step further). That really means a lot to me.” —Debra McCarty
“I am thankful to Black Voters of PA who saved what’s left of democracy and the frontline activists, organizers and neighborhood heroes who have stood tall in the face of tyranny in 2020.” —Tayyib Smith, Principle, Meta Global, parent company to Little Giant Creative
“I am thankful to serve people during this most critical time. It’s an honor and also very humbling to be able to advocate, support, and have an impact on people’s lives. I’m thankful that we have a chance to heal, as a city and a country, and to remember that we are in this together.” —Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez, Councilmember
“We at Philabundance are thankful for the many, many people across the Delaware Valley who support us and allow us to serve the increasing number of our neighbors who are struggling to feed their families. I am grateful for every single donor, from the ones who contributed $5 to the ones who contributed $100,000. I am grateful for every single person who donated food and volunteered at food drives. And, I’m very grateful for our Philabundance employees who since the beginning of Covid-19 have worked tirelessly and selflessly to, as we say, drive hunger from our community.” —Loree D. Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Philabundance
“My friends and family. They have really made it easier to deal. Whether we’re talking about job loss, or losing a loved one, I know there’s people I can talk to about it. And I think it’s reciprocal, too. Despite all this, I’ve had that social safety net to help me get through.” —Clay Dupree (L)
“I’m just grateful to have made it this far in the year. There’s been an insane amount of death, an insane amount of hospitalizations. I was sick earlier this year—I may have had it—I’m thankful to have made it through that. I’m just looking forward to 2022—and thankful to be able to have hope for 2022.” —Zaire Williams
“I am incredibly thankful for the strength and commitment of our team members to our community, our guests, and our city. We have been working continuously since March and their dedication to making sure our fellow Philadelphians can be fed and supported brings joy and reminds me daily of what is possible when good people come together.” —Judy Ni, owner, Baology restaurant
“I’m thankful that I’m alive. You know how many people passed away this year? And in my country, too. I’m from a small town [San Francisco, near Puebla, Mexico] and my mom said 60 people passed away there. I’m thankful we have a job, too.” —Luis Romero, owner, Carmen Lerros produce stand
“His name is Adam, named for Adam Schiff, the irascible District Attorney on vintage Law & Order episodes. He sleeps with his paw across my chest. He had me at ‘Meow’.” —Larry Platt, co-founder, The Philadelphia Citizen
“It has been a tough year with the virus, but there are a lot of people that helped me. My family bringing over food; St. Paul’s Church offering to bring me what I needed. When you live alone, every little bit helps.” —Philip Disipio
“I’m thankful to be in a position to have a voice and ability to work on the issues facing our city. I’m thankful for the team of great people that work for me. And I’m thankful to feel a part of this city, with all its great people and places, and I know we can overcome the problems of our city if we stick together.” —Rebecca Rhynhart, City Controller, City of Philadelphia
“I have an image in my mind that sums up my gratitude for this great city in a hard year. In my faith tradition, it is easy to cultivate gratitude when the wind is at your back and things are going your way. But if you can cultivate joy and gratitude in the midst of adversity, you have achieved spiritual enlightenment. I have this image of hundreds of Philadelphians dancing while waiting to cast their vote in the midst of a health and economic pandemic. All of those people, who have their own pain and problems, who are anxious about the course of our city and nation, who have better things to do than wait in interminably long lines, decided to break out in dance. It shows that our neighbors believe a better day can come if we just believe it and invest in it and act on it—and maybe dance along the way.” —Bill Golderer, President/CEO, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey