What are you thankful for?

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We asked, you answered.

The Daily Universe accepted submissions during the month of November from readers about gratitude. Top entries are included below.

Thankful for family

By Josh Bills

When I was a child, I grew up with a struggling single mom and we never really had your “traditional” Thanksgiving as a family. In my school classes, the month of November was always a difficult one for me. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a joyous time full of traditions, but rather I found myself being jealous of my peers and their families. Without going into too many details, there was a need for me to be put up for adoption. I was adopted by a happy LDS couple who taught me the true value of family. Because of this experience, I have become more thankful for the family I have now. Thanksgiving for me now doesn’t have the same meaning as before; previously Thanksgiving was just like any other Thursday, but now I see it as a time full of tradition, love, and family.

Migration

By Bela Gandhi

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England in September 1620. The pilgrims, desiring religious freedom, fled England in search of safety. The Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn feast with the pilgrims one year later. Thanksgiving each year is a reminder of acceptance in the new land and the help pilgrims were given in order to survive.

In 2017, America is still inviting pilgrims to take refuge in the United States. I am grateful for the willing acceptance which allowed my grandparents to migrate here from India. I am thankful my family was given the chance to live here. With Thanksgiving approaching I’ve thought about what gratitude means to me. As I reflect on the opportunities I am given by the choices of my ancestors I feel the need to share the opportunities I was given with others. I see the world’s growing number of refugees and my heart hurts. These individuals didn’t decide where they were born yet are persecuted.

I was born here in America. In a couple of days, I will get to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family where I’ll eat seasoned turkey and creamy mashed potatoes. But I didn’t do anything to deserve this life. I was born in the right place. My gratitude for how and where I live cannot just be an appreciation for what I was given. Instead, I want others to enjoy the same childhood innocence. The same opportunity for education. The same love my family, friends, and neighbors have shown me. What does gratitude mean to me? It means providing for those who cannot on their own. It means paying it forward as a thankful reminder for those who brought me and my generation this far.

Grateful for my husband

By Olivia Snow

I’m grateful for my husband—all 78 inches. Sure I’m grateful for the things that made me fall in love with him: his love for me, his kindness to others, his belly-rending humor, and his knock-you-out dimples. But I just might be more grateful for the not-so-apparent things that I learned only after we had been married for a few years—the unpolished and gritty familiarity of marriage that only a wife can see.

I’m grateful for his collection of tennis shoes on his side of the bed that is always there no matter how many times I kick them into the closet. I’m grateful for the times when he desperately borrows my razor to shave his face minutes before church starts, leaving behind red blossoms on his chin from my dull blade. I’m grateful for the bizarre and slightly nauseating avocado, rice and cheese sandwich he makes for himself when we haven’t gone grocery shopping. I’m grateful for the excruciating shred by the guitarist Buckethead that he blasts over the radio on long car trips through southern Utah. I’m grateful for his irrational hope that he will be able to find shoes for his size 14 feet at the mall. I’m grateful for his labored renditions of operatic Christmas songs that I have the pleasure of eavesdropping on as he showers.

I’m grateful for all of these moments, because they remind me that my love for my husband is something so real, so exceptional, so comfortable that it can only exist between us. Our marriage isn’t Pinterest or Hollywood inspired. It is ours and ours alone—and for that, I am grateful.

Thankful for the little things

By Aubrey Hansen

As Thanksgiving approaches and you are reflecting on things you are grateful for, like family and friends, it is easy to overlook the little things; such as, a warm car or your dog’s wagging tail upon your arrival home. These are the things I wish to highlight now. Can you think of anything better than warm clothes from the dryer? Have you ever thought about how grateful you are for deodorant (whether it’s yours or somebody else’s)? This year I am especially grateful for the fact that it is the middle of November and there is still no snow on the ground or frozen to my windshield. I am also grateful for good hair days and dry shampoo on the days when I’m not so lucky. I am grateful for Chick-Fil- A sauce and all delicious condiments for that matter. I am grateful for the days when the elevator in my apartment building doesn’t break down, and I don’t have to embarrass myself by huffing and puffing all the way up six flights of stairs. I am grateful for when my roommates refill the ice tray, when they save their leftovers for me, when they make cookies for the whole apartment, and when they finally clean their dishes. This year, when you sit at the table for Thanksgiving dinner, and your turn comes to say what you’re grateful for, make sure to think of the little things; whether it be, cooking videos on Facebook, finding money in your pocket, or the magic that is Ibuprofen. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful for Thanksgiving

By Emily Swarts

Thanksgiving is a holiday that isn’t usually given as much hype as it deserves, and we often overlook it in anticipation of Christmas; however, it is a great opportunity to look at everything you have been given in life and show your appreciation for it. This thanksgiving season I am grateful for many things, but one that I am more focused on this year is the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Thanksgiving is a holiday unique to the United States, and I think it is another chance to express gratitude for our many freedoms. Think back to the first Thanksgiving, the pilgrims didn’t have much as far as temporal things go, but they were able to gather together and celebrate the fact that they were able to live in their new home, free of oppression. I believe that this Thanksgiving we have just as much reason to celebrate our freedoms as the pilgrims did. Regardless of your religious beliefs, political views, or cultural background we all have the same rights and freedoms and that is something truly remarkable and worth expressing your gratitude for this Thanksgiving.

Realizing Gratitude

By Emma Gee

am I alone
or simply afraid
can I not handle
the messes I made
~
is it a choice
or just avoiding risk
the effect of me losing
the pieces I miss
~
I think I’ve moved on
but that’s hard to say
i’m always hurting the people
that get in my way
~
what should I do
who should I be
it’s so hard to know
what it means to be me
~
spoiler alert! it’s really not
not hard to know
what to do
with everything that I’ve got
~
it comes down to choices
this I know to be true
that decide when I fail
or if I make it through
~
though it sure isn’t easy
I know i’ll survive
I’ve always had what it takes
to live, love, and thrive
~
my mind, my body
my talent, my shine
God i’m so grateful
for these things that are mine

 

Washington Seminar

By Natasha Ramirez

Washington D.C. is a political mecca, and because of this, when you’re living there you’re constantly bombarded by problems that the United States and the world are facing. So it can be difficult to remember to be grateful for the little things. This semester I have participated in BYU’s Washington Seminar program and have had an up close and personal view of the important work that ensures our freedom. There are so many problems in the world, and we have the ability to influence both now and in our future careers. We are the future that the world so desperately needs. And I am so very grateful for that.

Here are some other things that I have been thankful for this semester:

  • Free museums everywhere
  • Evening runs past the Lincoln Memorial
  • Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups
  • Guys in business suits. Everywhere.

Independence

By Lauren Lethbridge

I usually join the hordes of people every November perusing Pinterest for all those cute handy little Thanksgiving prompts like, “100 Things You Are Grateful For” where it’s split into 10 lists of 10 or daily gratitude challenges and prompts to help us in the struggle to figure out what we are grateful for. This year as I fell into my usual scrolling habits, I felt a little funny. Did I really need a prompt to decide what I was grateful for? Did I really need to hop on board someone else’s grateful train to get ideas? Have I lost all sense of independence to the point where I can’t sit and think on my own what makes me glad to be alive?

I truly felt a little lost, and like I was being dragged around by an invisible cord connected to my various social media outlets. I logged off of Pinterest and set my phone down. What was I grateful for? One word. Independence. Not even in the patriotic sense but in the sense of me. Independence allows me to choose what I want to do; to be able to study what I want and live where I want. It gives me hundreds of options and paths I can take. It empowers me and gives me a sense of purpose, I can take control of who I am, what I do, what I think, and what affects me. Because of my independence, I can believe what I want, share that belief, and act on that belief. Looking at independence, my gratefulness can branch in hundreds of different directions. My gratitude towards my current situation, my God, my actions, my studies, the things I get to do every day all stems back to my independence and for that I am most thankful.