Beyond grateful

More than 200 of you replied to my request for gratefulness stories. I'm not including all 200, that would be insane. But here's an inspiring sample. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

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(I’ll be taking tomorrow off, because otherwise I’d have to write a newsletter on Thanksgiving. See you Monday!)


Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve been thinking all week about the nature of gratitude. Yeah, I’m a lot of fun like that.

But really, what I wanted to do today is just pass on some of the really thoughtful gratitude comments many of you shared in response to my request earlier this week.

More than 200 people replied, so I can’t share them all. And, I had to edit pretty aggressively for space—frankly, I probably should have cut more.

I also took inspiration from all of this and wrote an Inc.com column about gratitude. It’s real Stephen Colbert kind of stuff, but it was a good learning exercise.

As for what I’m grateful for—many, many things.

First and foremost, my wife and daughter. There are no two people on the planet I’d rather spend the better part of a year cooped with in a pandemic.

And second—highly relevant—all of you who read this newsletter.

I hope that doesn’t sound like pandering; it’s true. What I really like, and that you’ll get an inkling of below, is the sheer diversity of who you all are.

Maybe about a quarter of you followed me over from Inc.com last year, but beyond that, the list grows in unexpected ways almost every day.

There are wealthy, successful business people, and good people who are barely scraping by. There are passionate liberals and equally passionate conservatives. Twenty-somethings and nonagenarians. The overwhelming majority, maybe 85 percent, are in the U.S., but that other 15 percent includes basically every English-speaking country on the planet (plus quite a few others).

As you can maybe imagine, I’m only human; there are days when this thing can be a bear to write. But a big part of why I keep at it is that I realize it’s a gift to have assembled a big group of thousands and thousands of people who don’t all think the same way—but who are mostly thoughtful and respectful to each other.

Where else do we find that in the world in 2020?

Anyway, I’m grateful for that. And here’s what some of your fellow readers are grateful for. (The “7 other things are here today too—just way down at the bottom.”:

  • Cindy Schutt: “30 years of marriage celebrated on Nov 17th.”

  • Cheryl Byrne: “Bill. I am grateful for my family. We (my 22-yo daughter and her gf; my 24-yo son; my aging parents; my physician husband) have been together since March. We have dinner together frequently, we play cards and Rummikub and sometimes a game of turbo Scrabble. We have watched TV series (Schitts Creek, The Queens Gambit) together. We went to the drive in to see Jaws! We walk (too little ) and drink (probably too much.) Yet, here we are, and I am so thankful to have this bonus time with them.”

  • Kimberly Ho Schoelen: “I am grateful, especially in these turbulent social, political, and economic times, to be a Christian. Why? Because I know that being “in this world” but not “of this world” is temporal. Today I give thanks for my health, family, friends, having a more than adequate roof over my head, food to eat, and clean water to drink. Happy Thanksgiving!”

  • Fran Mosher: “A number of years ago, a former supervisor, who played a significant role in my professional development, unexpectedly passed on. I lamented that I never told him how much I appreciated his leadership and mentoring. That experience led me to contact the people who had invested time and efforts in me... A couple of weeks ago, one of the people that I contacted with a “thank you” also unexpectedly passed on. I am grateful that I was able to express my appreciation and acknowledge his continuing friendship.”

  • Mark Hochstatter: “Bill, I work in the hotel industry and run two hotels in California. I am grateful to have a job. So many of my fellow hospitality professionals are either out of work or under-employed that I count myself lucky”

  • Tom Callen: “Hi Bill, I am grateful for my wife of 49 years and the support, care, and love she has given me. I am grateful for my two kidney donors and their families, two people who have given me the greatest gift one can give another: “the gift of life.” I am grateful for our families and the joy that they have brought us throughout our lives. I am grateful to the friends we have made and the kinship both of us have enjoyed with all of them. I am grateful to all the medical personnel that have helped give both of us, the lives we lead today. Lastly, I am grateful to God for all his blessings.”

  • John Hogan: “I'm grateful for where I grew up, when and who I grew up with. I feel that it was the last age of innocence. I grew up in South Jersey during the 70's and 80's. During the summers I would leave the house to play all day while roaming the neighborhood. We played in the parks, schoolyards, basketball courts and yes in the streets (stickball, wire ball, football) and none of us ever got hit by a car. We road our bikes without helmets and many times with someone on the handlebars. We drank out of people's hose for water. We had a town fire siren that blew at 5PM which was our notice to head home for dinner. Our annual vacation was a week at the Jersey shore in Wildwood, NJ. Yes, we drove the whole way there with no seatbelts in the back of a station wagon, back window down, and rolling around on sharp turns. I made many great friends back then of which I'm still close to today. Life was simple, yet extraordinary and I'm am grateful for that.”

  • Connie Tang: “I am beyond grateful for the time I’ve had to ‘be present,’ and engage and learn with my daughter as she navigated college application essays and started her senior year with many unknowns. Sure, in the BC (before COVID) days, as I traveled hundreds of thousands of miles a year, and we would have spent hours on the phone, FaceTime, texted, emailed … But this year, has been a gift in precious time I had to sit with my girl, side-by-side … Happy Thanksgiving to all!”

  • Melissa Persaud: “I'm grateful for time to reflect on what direction I want my life to head as I finish my last year of my 20s.”

  • Mitch Cornelius: “Been thinking about gratitude also! Our church leader (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) recommended everyone focus on specific gratitude this week. ... It's easy to say that you're grateful for a family, house, income stability, food on your plate, etc... but there are many other things also. One I settled on yesterday: I'm grateful for learning. … This year I'm grateful to have learned the importance of unity and caring for one another as we battle pandemics, racism, civil unrest, and more.”

  • Rani Alfers: “Hi Bill, this year I am most grateful to have learned to be a better and different type of leader for my team. … Bottom line is I learned to let go and trust (and drink more wine). Lastly, I remember a comment from my son who is 8: ‘Wow, mom I didn’t know you worked so hard during the day.’ I feel as if children are able to see a better glimpse of the journey that their parents are on, as we are equally able to see what their life looks like during that 8/3PM school window. I’m thankful for this year.”

  • ann 2031: “For what am I grateful? … I am deeply grateful for this thing we call Life. I am grateful that I can pray. I am grateful that I can learn. … I am learning all kinds of stuff: how to cook better, how to work from home, how to order and get groceries delivered. I am learning how to meditate, be mindful, and calm; how to do Chair Yoga, how to use old technology better, and how to use new-to-me technology at all. I am learning how to be at peace within myself -- and I am grateful for all of that! … I have been in, at home (except for Dr appointments) since mid-March. I know that someday will come and we'll be able to hug again. When that day comes, I think I will cry from the sheer joy of touching another human being again.”

  • Lisa Maniaci: “Hey Bill, Good idea, and since you’re an adoptive parent, and National Adoption Day was this past Saturday, my kids are what I’m most grateful for. With choices being what they are, I am grateful every day of my life that my kids’ birth mothers chose life. I’m grateful that my parents are still alive and I’m grateful that I married a guy who makes me laugh every day. What else could a girl need? Well, aside from Oreos I mean. Happy Thanksgiving Bill.”

  • [Name withheld by request]: “2020 has been a bad/tough/horrible/ unprecedented (not so sure)/difficult year for so many people. But for me, truthfully, it has just been majorly inconvenient, and I am thankful for that. What I am most thankful for however is that during another truly bad/tough/horrible year, the person I hold most dear didn't give up on me, and therefore I did not give up on myself. That was a game-changer, and has allowed me to put even the toughest times in perspective, and given me the intestinal fortitude to meet any challenge head on. Thank you for your daily musings, and for causing me to go introspective for a moment.”

  • Eric Higgins: “I have had some struggles and challenges trying to take care of my children as a single dad over the past few years, and if it wasn’t for the kindness, love, and support of friends and family, old classmates from the 1980s and even strangers, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Because of this, I live a life of gratitude, and always choose kindness when I can. Coincidentally, as you are asking about gratitude and thankfulness, I have a unique situation: My band from 20 years ago, Bumbles Bounce, has finished an album that was started in 1997 (shameless plug: first single was released on streaming services everywhere). There’s just one thing left to do. Write the thank you list for the CD cover. There is limited space … I am struggling, trimming the roster so to speak. I wonder if other people could write a list of people they would thank if they only had a limited space? It might surprise people to see how much they have to be thankful for.”

  • Jim Whatley: “I am grateful for the limited number of stupid things I have done the last year. Failure to gather enough information before making decisions can lead to poor results.”

  • Vanessa Rueda: “Reading that "annus horribilis" about 1992 made me pause - that's the year I was born! My 28th birthday is next month, so I will be thinking of it then too. In terms of what I'm grateful for this “annus horribillis,” I'd say it's as mundane as being able to run 20 minutes without stopping. This is either because of or in spite of 2020, but it's a small achievement I'm still buzzing about even though it happened yesterday morning. I took up Couch to 5K and I finished Week 5 of it yesterday, which is to run 20 minutes without taking walking breaks. Before COVID, I was an avid gym-goer and went to spin twice a week, with lifting in between. [But] through the ups and downs of this year, I struggled to find at-home workouts.”

  • Regis Maher: “Agreed that this has been a tough year. Some of us have lost loved ones, some of us have been isolated, and some of us have faced hardship personally and professionally in a way we've never encountered before. However, instead of annus horribilis, I am choosing to look at this year as doctrina annos singulos, or a learning year. We have had an opportunity to learn that we can become stronger, to learn that we can become closer through distance, that families can become even closer, and we've been granted the chance to open our eyes and see just how fortunate we truly are and how thankful we should be. Happy Thanksgiving and I appreciate your column every day.”

  • Mike Greenberg: “Every day, I'm grateful to still be able to work. Working from home has been a massive challenge - especially seperating family and work life. However I've been fortunate... I'm acutely aware of all those who have lost their jobs or had salary cuts. I'm so grateful to still be earning enough to be comfortable. (“Mike, Mythology Writer covering everything from Apollo to Zeus”)

  • Alice Anderson, founder of Mommy to Mom: I lost my mother last year after an 8-year battle with cancer. As difficult as that was, I will forever be grateful for the timing. I can't imagine her having to deal with the added anxiety of a pandemic while going through chemo treatments and ending with Hospice nurses making daily visits to her home.”

  • Cadry Nelson “This year, I am feeling so thankful for the relationship I have with my husband. In such a challenging time with many outside stressors beyond our control, I'm grateful to have someone who is such a good and kind partner. Since March, we have seen very few people in person outside of the two of us and our cats. It would be really challenging if we didn't enjoy each other so much. … If you decide to quote me … I'd like for you to link to my vegan food blog, Cadry’s Kitchen.

  • Alex Beene: “I'm a teacher in Tennessee. … I'm thankful for my students. There have been quite a few times this year when I, like many others, felt isolated, disheartened, and even unwanted. Having students who kept me intellectually active and socially engaged have been my saving grace. I don't know how I would've survived this year without their kindness and spirit.”

  • Jonathan Faccone: This year has presented a lot of challenges, anxiety, and uncertainty for nearly all of us. However, despite the uncertainty, I am grateful that my business (Halo Homebuyers) was still able to thrive and I'm grateful for the health of my family and close love ones. I tend to be a pessimistic and negative thinker so gratefulness has not come easy for me. However, through my faith and readings, I learned that we always have something to be grateful for no matter our situation.”

  • Nicole Sud: “I've had an interesting year, where I delivered twins on April 1st, and on the same day my younger sister was diagnosed with cancer (stage 3 breast cancer). … What I'm most grateful for is the support that family provides. My mother-in-law has been an absolute angel. You hear jokes about in-laws living too close, but in this case I'm so glad. She came over every morning during maternity leave to allow me to catch up on sleep. Even now, she watches my 3-year-old every day. I'm also grateful for the support my own parents and sister are providing to my sister who has cancer; we joke they are effectively raising her kids for her. But while she has undergone months of chemo, and two surgeries, they are strictly quarantining and avoiding contact with others in order to keep her safe. I live in Falls Church, Virginia, and have a 3-year-old and 7-month-old twins. I have a PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and work as a Senior Director in HR in the health insurance industry. You can view my writing at 3 Under Three.”

  • Ben Tanner: “I am a physician assistant working in the ER … So, I would have to say that I am most thankful for my health. Both physical and mental. … In addition to working as a PA, I'm a longtime guitar player and I run a few different blogs, including one I started recently about guitars.

  • Alladdine Djaidani, who describes himself an entrepreneur, translator, and personal finance expert at hustlrethos.com: “I'm grateful to be a Muslim. I walk on this earth thanking God each day for the blessing he granted me. I'm thankful that I can see the world through the lens of Islam. I'm grateful that Islam taught me that I need to love for my brothers what I love for myself. I'm Grateful that Islam taught that Whoever fulfills the needs of his brother, Allah (God) will fulfill his needs. I'm grateful for so many other things that I would run out of words to describe. Most importantly, I'm grateful to live this way of life, even if I don't do a great job, I'm still thankful I got to see the world from those lenses. Thank you for reading! If you use my quote, please refer to me as *Alladdine Djaidani, entrepreneur, translator, and personal finance expert at* hustlrethos.com.

  • Lynell Ross, resource director at Test Prep Insight: “Having suffered many losses in my life beginning with the death of my father when I was three years old, losing all my grandparents by the time I was eight, and then my mother when she was 62, I have a deep understanding of how precious life is. This year, I am thankful that I have lived longer than both my parents, so that I could be here to see the birth of my first grandchild.”

  • Boysen Hodgson: “Hello Bill - I've been working with men in peer-support groups for 15 years on emotional intelligence, connection, and expression. The pain of the pandemic has brought opportunities for many men who would have never thought to seek help in the past. I am grateful for conscious spaces and time to connect with men in a way that supports me and lifts me up. … What I have witnessed in the last 7 months reinforces the bottom line learning from the Harvard Grant study, the longest running study of men ever conducted. The key to a long, healthy, and happy life is the quality of your relationships. And the quality of your relationships is based on emotional awareness and ongoing work.”

This is long enough already—and it’s Thanksgiving! If you’re still reading, the 7 other things is kind of an abbreviated version:

  • President Trump pardoned Mike Flynn;

  • Qatar Airlines, oddly, is the only airline in the world serving Thanksgiving dinner in flight today;

  • Other countries think Americans are utterly insane for celebrating Thanksgiving during a pandemic.

  • Remember the Drudge Report? A long analysis concludes Matt Drudge might have sold the site and simply never told anyone.

  • Here’s a guide to socializing outdoors in the cold without being miserable, during the pandemic.

  • The theory that George Washington should be considered the true “father of Thanksgiving,” since he made a practice of giving his soldiers a day to give thanks after battles in the Revolutionary War.

  • Finally, Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer player, died at age 60. If you never got to see him, just check out this video the so-called Goal of the Century, in the World Cup against England in 1986.

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