61 Reasons to Be Thankful This Thanksgiving

We've all been through an incredibly tough year. Here are some things we can all be grateful for, no matter what else is going on.

This year has been another one for the history books, and it may feel like it’s taking forever for the holidays to get here. With the continuing challenges of the pandemic and seemingly endless cycle of depressing world news, we all could use a reason to celebrate. Well, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to remember that there are lots of things to be grateful for each and every day.

Whether those things are big or small, and whether they involve family or just a simple seasonal pleasure, there are definitely more than you realize—and they can give you a much-needed boost. Start with our suggestions, and then think about your own blessings to create a personalized gratitude list. For more inspiration, check out these Thanksgiving quotes and Thanksgiving prayers, and try incorporating these meaningful Thanksgiving traditions (and even some fun ones, like breaking the turkey wishbone) in your own get-together this year.

1. Family

During the holidays, family can be a lot of extra work and stress. But it’s also the perfect time to remember just how much of a blessing they actually are. So even when they’re annoying, try to focus on all the things you love about your beautiful, wacky, funny, a-little-bit-crazy-but-always-loving clan.

2. Carbs

Thanks to bread, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, and pie, Thanksgiving is basically the High Carb Holiday. Carbs get a bad rap sometimes, but they certainly have a place in your diet and today is the day to enjoy them—guilt-free.

3. A sense of humor

“Thank goodness we have a holiday set aside for being grateful—we’d sure hate to have to do that every day!” Jim Gaffigan’s take on Thanksgiving will have you rolling, and there’s more where that came from on YouTube’s massive holiday-comedy library. You’ll also want to share these funny Thanksgiving memes everyone will gobble up.

4. Crunchy, colorful, fragrant piles of leaves

Is there anything that says “fall” more than the changing foliage? The vibrant colors, the satisfying crunch underfoot, and the woodsy smell combine to delight all your senses.

5. Pets

man sitting with his dog in the trunk of his car during sunsetsupersizer/Getty Images

Whether it’s the soulful eyes of your pup (begging for turkey) or the tiny pink nose of your kitty (also begging for turkey, but in a much more sophisticated way than Fido), Thanksgiving is the perfect time to shower a little extra love on the critters who love you the most. Don’t miss these photos of pets filled with holiday spirit.

6. Crisp apples

Apples may be available in stores all year long, but there’s something special about fall apples, with their fresh, crisp bite, and tangy sweet juice. No wonder so many favorite Thanksgiving recipes rely on apples!

7. That holiday helping spirit

The “holiday spirit” is a real thing, and we promise you—there’s nothing that will make you more grateful for what you have than sharing some of it with someone who has less.

8. New pumpkin recipes

From sweet treats to savory soups and everything in between, pumpkins are a remarkably versatile veggie! By the way, here are a few things you’ll want to know about Costco’s pumpkin pie. (For starters, it’s just $5.99!)

9. Mums

Mums are a perennial (get it?) Thanksgiving favorite. Buy a pot for yourself, or bring one as a hostess gift.

10. Pumpkin patches

Admit it: Whoever decided that walking through a muddy field to pick an oddly shaped squash would be fun (and also something people would pay a lot of money to do) was kind of a genius. And it is fun! Get in on the action by visiting the best pumpkin patch near you.

11. Turkey

This classic Thanksgiving totem and food doesn’t get a lot of love the rest of the year, but the humble turkey is a tasty source of filling protein—not to mention high levels of tryptophan, the chemical known for making you feel relaxed and sleepy. Here’s how to buy the perfect turkey.

12. Tiny hand turkeys

These sweet paper cutouts will remind you how little and innocent children are, and may even remind you of your own days when the world was magical, Santa was real, and hands could be birds. If you’re a parent, simple Thanksgiving crafts like this will also keep the kids occupied on the big day—yet another thing to be grateful for!

13. Your best friend

Friends are like family, but sometimes they’re even better than family, especially when they’re saving the day by bringing over a non-burnt turkey or smuggling you a much-needed drink. Make sure to tell your friend how grateful you are for their friendship and how much better your life is because you have them. Better yet, host a Friendsgiving celebration this year and do that in person.

14. Candy corn

Corn the vegetable is great and all, but candy corn is way tastier, especially when you mix it with peanuts for that classic salty-sweet Thanksgiving table decoration/kid appetizer.

15. Delicious warm drinks

close up of person holding hot drink during the fall time outsidePeter Berglund/Getty Images

Fall means cooler temps, which, of course, means steamy mugs of deliciousness. See you later, smoothies! It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, hot toddies, spiced ciders, mulled wines, and even hot chocolate bombs.

16. Marching bands

Band geeks (aka musical geniuses) have been training for the big Thanksgiving parade all year. Appreciate the pomp and artistry of a full band by watching a parade on TV or lining up to cheer for your local high school kids.

17. Children’s gratitude lists

Ask an adult what they’re thankful for and they’ll say something sensible like “a warm house” or “family.” Ask a kid and you never know what answer you’ll get! For instance, the response one student gave his teacher will warm your heart.

18. Early evenings

Summer nights, with their barbecues and night games, may get all the glory, but fall nights can be just as fun. Pop some popcorn, pull out a board game or puzzle, turn on a favorite movie, and enjoy the cozy feeling of being snuggled up together.

19. Football

Thanksgiving is prime time for football. Whether you’re watching a game on TV or playing a little touch football at the park with friends, the sport has a way of bringing people together.

20. Scarves and mittens

Staying warm is a need, but nothing says you can’t do it in style! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to debut your sleek gloves, warm scarves, cute hats, tall boots, and smart coats—and to be grateful for warm fingers and toes!

21. A cozy kitchen

For many people, spending a day puttering around the kitchen, chatting with family, and making favorite recipes is a wonderful way to enjoy Thanksgiving.

22. The first snow

For much of the country, the first dusting of snow comes around Thanksgiving, reminding you that winter is right around the corner. That first chill and snowfall hints at sledding, snowmen, hot chocolate, and holiday parties.

23. Holiday songs

Whether or not to listen to Christmas carols before Thanksgiving is a very contentious topic, but once Thanksgiving hits, feel free to play all your favorite tunes!

24. Peace and safety

The world is a tumultuous place right now, full of nightmare scenarios. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely in a place of relative safety and peace. Be grateful, and do your part to help make the world a better place in the coming year.

25. Pie

Pumpkin pie is really only the beginning when it comes to delicious Thanksgiving pies. Apple rhubarb, Dutch apple, French silk, coconut cream, and caramel are all excellent variations on seasonal pies. And believe it or not, pumpkin actually isn’t even America’s favorite Thanksgiving pie.

26. Electricity and plumbing

Little girl pointing at a Light bulb in homeCatherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Remembering what our ancestors had to endure just to stay alive is apt to make anyone grateful for modern conveniences. Just try to imagine what life would be like without tap water, indoor toilets, and the Internet.

27. Comforters

Nothing caps off a wonderful Thanksgiving meal like falling into a deep slumber under a fluffy, warm comforter in a soft bed.

28. Your health

If ever there was a time to be grateful for your health, it is now. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid contracting COVID-19, you’ve been lucky enough.

29. Advice columns

Thanksgiving can be a depressing time, especially if your life isn’t going quite the way you’d hoped. Reading about other people’s problems in an advice column just might make you more grateful for your own situation.

30. Smiles from a stranger

A smile from a stranger is a small thing, but it can change the trajectory of your entire day. Someone noticed you. Someone liked you enough to smile at you. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it.

31. Baby giggles

Thanksgiving is a time for families, and while having so many different personalities in one place can be challenging, there’s always an upside: the laughter of babies and toddlers. It’s genuine, comes straight from the gut, and happens at the best times (like when Grandpa accidentally belches). Kids will also love these Thanksgiving games—and so will the whole family!

32. Waiters

Many restaurants are packed on Thanksgiving. Let’s all take a minute to be grateful for the servers, hosts, managers, cooks, chefs, bussers, and other workers who make it all possible. These stores are open on Thanksgiving, too.

33. Mom

Whether your mother is in the next room, the next town, the next country, or the next life, Thanksgiving traditions can be powerful reminders of the good times you shared together and how very much she loves you, no matter how far away.

34. Dad

Don’t forget your papa! From organizing the neighborhood football game to re-raking the leaf pile for you to jump in over and over, dads hold a special place on Thanksgiving, too.

35. Corn mazes

Get your exercise before the big meal by walking (and getting lost) in one of these clever life-size mazes. Or take it next-level and do a spooky incarnation. The best corn mazes in America will provide the ultimate challenge.

36. Leftovers

Are there any leftovers better than Thanksgiving leftovers? No, no there are not.

37. Potpourri

Bring the spicy, earthy smell of fall indoors with an easy stove-top potpourri recipe: Put orange peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla, and nutmeg in a small pot. Cover with water and heat on low, adding water as necessary. You’ll enjoy the simple fragrance all day.

38. Books

Senior woman with book standing against bookshelf in a book storeLuis Alvarez/Getty Images

What better way to spend those sleepy post-feast hours than curled up in your favorite chair with a holiday-themed mystery or a romance novel featuring pie. (Yes, that’s really a thing!) Or make it a family affair with the best children’s Thanksgiving books.

39. Naps

Napping is a Thanksgiving tradition, just as much as football and turkey. And indulging in this one is just as good for you as it feels.

40. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

This year will be the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it a holiday tradition that stretches back for generations. If you can’t attend live, you can still watch it, from the comfort of your own home on TV or the Internet—no crowds required.

41. Pumpkin spice everything

Pumpkin spice lattes are just the beginning of the fun you can have with this spice blend of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Pumpkin spice is everywhere—from cereal to doughnuts to ravioli, as well as body wash, hand soap, candles, and air fresheners.

42. Nature walks in the forest

Nature is quite the artist, and there’s no better way to admire her handiwork than by watching the colors change on the trees. A nature walk or drive to see the beautiful changing fall foliage is the perfect complement to a Thanksgiving dinner.

43. Black Friday

If shopping were a sport, it might overtake football as the premier Thanksgiving event, thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The craziest shopping day of the year isn’t for everyone, though, so feel free to enjoy the sales from the comfort of your computer screen.

44. FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom

Technology brings us so many gifts, but perhaps none are as meaningful as the ability to see our loved ones even when they can’t physically be with us. Thankfully, we have FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and other apps to bring in far-off (and, this year, COVID-conscious) grandparents, cousins, children, and friends. Make sure your online and in-person gatherings are as pleasant as possible by avoiding these topics on Thanksgiving.

45. Lip balm

Cold, dry weather means dry, cracked lips and skin. Lip balm and lotion can be lifesavers this time of year. A small thing to be grateful for, perhaps, but an important one.

46. The roof over your head

Shelter is one of humankind’s most primary needs, but it’s so basic that unless you don’t have it, you may forget to be grateful for it. This year, take a look upward and be grateful for the roof that offers you warmth and protection—and find a way to make sure everyone who needs one finds a roof, too.

47. Streaming television

Whether you’re in the kitchen, on the couch, or doing chores around the house, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to binge-watch a favorite show or get caught up on shows you might have missed. The whole family can enjoy these Thanksgiving movies, too.

48. Emergency service personnel

You know who never gets a day off, even on Thanksgiving? Firefighters, first responders, EMTs, doctors, nurses, and many other emergency service workers. Show them your gratitude for their service 365 days a year by dropping off a little treat or making a donation to their local cause.

49. Tears

Thanksgiving tears are often of the poignant variety—saying goodbye to loved ones and remembering past holidays. And those tears serve an important purpose: We only cry when something is important to us, so those tears are a reminder of how much we love and are loved.

50. Slipper socks

Slipper socks will keep your toes toasty through all the holiday festivities. They come in all kinds of styles, fun patterns, and soft fabrics. Plus, they’re the perfect cover-up for imperfect toenails. Same goes for a pair of the best slippers for men and women.

51. Cell phones

Ponder for just a second what a miracle it is to have a device that is a phone, a TV, a radio, a camera, and holds all of the information of the modern world—and it fits in your pocket! How else would we capture all those precious Thanksgiving moments?

52. Freedom of speech

The historical roots of Thanksgiving often get lost in the food and fun, but at its core, the holiday is all about the founding of our country. One of the benefits of being American: freedom of speech.

53. Fresh air to breathe

Between the coronavirus pandemic, massive wildfires, raging storms, and air pollution, our lungs are under constant assault. Every breath in—particularly when you can see blue skies—is something to be thankful for.

54. Whipped cream

This classic pie topping is a must-have at Thanksgiving. Whoever figured out how to whip cream long enough to be fluffy (but not so long that it turns into butter) was a genius.

55. Frosted windows

As the days get colder, you will see some of nature’s most beautiful artwork decorate your window. Snowflakes and ice glitter brighter than any diamonds. These actual Thanksgiving decorations will also make you smile.

56. Pizza and Pad Thai

Not everyone likes turkey and potatoes. Thankfully, these days you have plenty of options for your feast. Get creative, go gourmet, or just simplify. FYI, these chain restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving.

57. Black olives

What’s a Thanksgiving meal without a bowl of olives for kids (and adults!) to put on their fingertips? It’s a tasty, albeit less than sanitary, appetizer.

58. Challenges

Counting your blessings requires you to also look at all the challenges you’ve faced lately—and how the two are connected. There is no triumph without defeat, no joy without pain.

59. Vaccines and the scientists who invented them

doctor holding a covid 19 vaccine vialFatCamera/Getty Images

Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, many people are able to enjoy a holiday meal with their loved ones again. But don’t forget all the other vaccines that keep us safe and healthy.

60. Streaming playlists

Classical background music during dinner? Bon Jovi while playing football? Any type of music you could ever want is available at a touch, and better yet, the chances are high that someone has already made you the perfect playlist. That includes these Thanksgiving songs that help create the perfect ambiance.

61. Gratitude

That’s right—we just told you to be thankful for being thankful. Making your own Thankful-on-Thanksgiving list can ward off depression, lower blood pressure, ameliorate anxiety, and even increase life span. You’re welcome! Now that you have the ultimate list of things to be grateful for, check out these fun pieces of Thanksgiving trivia for the perfect Turkey Day conversation starters.

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.