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What We’re Grateful For

Jonathan Haidt, Tyler Cowen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mayim Bialik, and Free Pressers weigh in.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Which means you will sit down to eat. The turkey will be carved and ready. The sides will look irresistible. You’ll be eager to dig in. And then there’ll come the clink of a knife on glass and the request that everyone say what they are thankful for. 

For your correspondent, raised on a gray and rainy island where talking about your feelings is frowned upon, this kind of oversharing can be excruciating. But gratitude is underrated—and more necessary than ever, given the sorry state of the world. And so, ahead of tomorrow’s holiday, I asked some members of the extended Free Press family—staff, contributors, people we admire—what they’re thankful for this year. Here’s what they said. 

Walter Kirn, novelist and occasional Free Press columnist 

I’m grateful that I stopped in time. I’m grateful that I forgave before it was too late. I’m grateful for all the close calls that I survived so I could still be here with my wife, my kids, my friends, and my teachers and guides, without whom I’d be lost. I’m grateful that I still have so much to learn.

Olivia Reingold, reporter, The Free Press

I am grateful for growing up. Only a decade ago, I was a class clown who couldn’t keep due dates straight. Now, I am a neat freak who likes to read about the Founding Fathers. Thank God for the frontal lobe. 

Tyler Cowen, economist and blogger 

I am thankful for being able to watch and to try to understand the procession of history before us. That is one of the greatest and least appreciated privileges. In a year that has had some bad events, that is one form of solace.

Suzy Weiss, reporter and producer, The Free Press 

Tea. I smirked when we got a kettle in the office—this is Chelsea, not Fleet Street—and I never used to reach for it, opting always for the hard stuff (iced coffee, splash of milk, plastic straw). But since I got a cold I can’t kick, it’s been my constant companion, and a warm reminder to slow down.

Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and author

In recent weeks I have often thought about how lucky I am that all four of my grandparents made it out of Eastern Europe and to the United States, all around 1907. Even with the rise of blatant antisemitism on college campuses and in some cities, I know that America is, overall, a philosemitic country (one in which Jews are rated very positively). I am grateful for strong shows of support for Israel and for American Jews from President Biden, Mayor Eric Adams, and many other leaders. I am thankful that of all the places, times, and roles one could be born into, I was born a Jewish American in 1963. 

Isaac Grafstein, chief of staff, The Free Press

There is a lot of talk these days about the People’s Republic of China. As the deep freeze of a new cold war sets in, and in the spirit of Sino-American friendship, I feel compelled to express my profound gratitude for the culinary jewel that is dim sum. There is no experience finer than sharing an array of buns, dumplings, and rolls with the homies, while catching up over a weekend lunch.

This year, I am particularly thankful to China for exporting their cuisine stateside so gringos like me can indulge. Also, I am grateful that baggy pants are back in style this year, so I can keep slurping on my xiaolongbao without hesitation.

Leah McSweeney, designer, author, and Real Housewife 

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for my incredible 16-year-old daughter, who is Gen Z but thinks critically and bravely. I am also extremely grateful for my conversion to Judaism, which has vastly deepened the beauty of life. And right now, as we face more antisemitism than we have seen in our lifetime, I couldn’t be more grateful to stand alongside my chosen family.

Peter Savodnik, senior editor, The Free Press

I’m thankful for a slew of authors who have buoyed my spirits—starting with the incomparable Aharon Appelfeld, Michael Chabon, and Gregg Hurwitz.

I’m thankful for the 22 bottles of high-quality Scotch and vodka given to me on my last birthday. On many a late night, they have greatly enhanced the quality of my work.

Evan Gardner, Free Press intern and senior at Brown

This year, I’m especially thankful for poems. I never really appreciated them until this year, but I am thankful for their small moments of beauty for beauty’s sake in the midst of so much violence and conflict.

Emily Yoffe, senior editor, The Free Press

I’m grateful for being able to enjoy the variability, expressiveness, and beauty of the human face.

Bari Weiss, editor and founder, The Free Press

Teachers. In a moment in which I often feel the world has gone mad, I find myself reliant on those with far greater wisdom than me. Many teach me from beyond the grave; others, like Jonathan Rosen, Alana Newhouse, and Walter Russell Mead, are a phone call away.

Also: Tim Dillon. If you haven’t committed yet, it’s time.

Margi Conklin, managing editor, The Free Press

I am grateful for the Shawangunk Mountains, which lie just 15 minutes from my home in upstate New York. Every weekend it’s my jungle gym, where I walk and talk with my husband, hoist myself up ridges, inhale fresh air, and realize—amid eagles and squirrels and the occasional bear—that our human concerns are only a tiny part of this rock we’re spinning on. I’ve been hiking for two decades now, and I know I’ll be doing it for as long as I can breathe and put one foot in front of the other. Hiking is my sanity.

Francesca Block, reporter, The Free Press

I’m thankful for all the tipsters and whistleblowers for their juicy scoops and promising leads (and if there are any more of you out there, email me).

Maya Sulkin, executive assistant, The Free Press

This year, I am compelled to express my profound gratitude for Spotify daylists. Long gone are the days of “shuffle all” or listening to the Hamilton soundtrack until I hear Lin Manuel Miranda’s voice in my nightmares. Instead, I am graced each morning with a compilation of music to fit my mood—“Motown ’70s Morning” is my personal favorite—that the genius little robot inside my phone has picked out just for me.

Mayim Bialik, Jeopardy co-host and actress

I’m thankful I was born a Jew. I’m thankful for the state of Israel. I’m thankful for America for taking in my refugee grandparents and giving them a chance to survive. I’m thankful for a heart and brain that can hold nuance. 

I’m thankful for my strange and funny children. I’m thankful for my capacity to love and be loved. I’m thankful I work with a partner I admire and adore. 

I’m thankful for The Free Press in the most significant way for being literally the only place I know I can go since October 7 to receive comfort, wisdom, and sanity. 

Julia Steinberg, Free Press intern and Stanford junior 

I am thankful for my professors who still believe in a liberal education—even if that now seems impossible—and who have pushed me to go against the grain and to “speak truth to power” for what I believe in. I am also thankful for Caroline Calloway’s book Scammer, which is fantastic and a great respite from my CompLit 101 readings.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author and Hoover Institution fellow 

I am thankful to be in my right mind. Sane, clear-headed, and connected to my family and friends. Connected, too, to the causes I care about.

Last year, this time, I was in a place of darkness. I felt small, scared, and alone. I shrank away from love. I trusted no one. I felt lost and longed for oblivion.

It took time, and the unconditional support of my husband, children, and my friends, who simply refused to leave me alone. Most important of all it took surrender to God to get here, to allow myself to feel at peace with Him.

From there to see and feel the love of my family.

I am therefore grateful for my loving family, friends, and community.

Thank God, I can say now with no shame or embarrassment, but with joy. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

What are you grateful for? Tell us in the comments.

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