Thankful Thursday | Thanksgiving Edition | 26 November 2020

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! While Thanksgiving looks different this year, we are blessed that we have reached the holiday season. Yesterday during Avi’s Torah reading, he recited the Shehechiyanu since it was fitting for the holidays.

Back during Rosh Hashana, Mallory sent us all the recitation of the Shehechiyanu. The Shehechiyanu is a prayer of gratitude that we have reached the holiday season. This prayer usually marks the beginning of a holiday, or is recited when something brings immense joy. 2020 has been a merry-go-sorry year mixed with immense hardships, joy and a whole range of emotions. For those of us who have large Thanksgiving dinners, not being able to have your family and friends over for a meal is hard.

While we don’t always have my cousin Jason over for the holidays, he celebrated Thanksgiving with us last year and in 2017. Since he is an EMT, mom didn’t want to chance anything since all three of us are high risk. We’ve had a small Thanksgiving since 2009, but after Nan died in 2013, it became the three of us.

I tend to get sad around this time of year because 2013 was a year of loss. Nan’s death in January 2013, my traumatic experience on 7 November 2013, then it being dropped in December 2013, it was just empty. 2020 has some parallels to 2013 for me, so I’ve been filling it with Zoom activities, gratitude, and love for friends and family. I’ll be taking photos this year and I will add them to my Happiness Box.

I’m thankful for family and I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and two jobs. I am fortunate that I haven’t lost my jobs during the pandemic, and while I was furloughed from the library for 7 months, I’m back at half the hours I worked before the pandemic. I am grateful to still have that part-time job. I am grateful that I am able to work from home during this pandemic too. Going in once per week to print isn’t that bad.

I’m thankful for my full-time job’s corporate wellness meeting, which introduced me to Avi and Joel, and tons of other people that I call friends now. Avi and Joel started the Torah and Bible weekly meetings and it has allowed me to learn more about my spiritual journey. I’m glad Avi lets me ask him a lot of questions and I can learn from him.

I’m thankful for Zoom because it has allowed me to get together with my Jewish groups, meet and mingle with new people, and build my network. Zoom and e-mail also have allowed me to keep in touch with people I met before the pandemic, and it has allowed us to build upon those relationships. Zoom has also allowed the Upper Merion Township Library to hold their book discussion this fall and it was wonderful to meet up with everyone to discuss literature.

Tina on held a gratitude contest last week and I want to share the 25 things I am grateful for:

  1. I’m thankful that Lyft is still operating. 12 November was office and library day, rather rainy too. My Lyft driver was a kind young man from Russia. He was a joy to chat with for 24 minutes. He’s still learning English, but he did great. I loved chatting about Germany and Russia with him. This is why I love Lyft and grateful he agreed to a selfie. Thank you kind Lyft driver!

2. For both of my jobs. While they drive me crazy from time to time, I’m glad to be gainfully employed and I have some awesome co-workers.

3. The Browns. They may be my neighbours, but they are sure a lot like family! I’m grateful that they include me in things.

4. Contagious🤷‍♀️ Krista! Thank you for sending me the scrapbooking materials. This will come in handy in the next month and a half when I open my Happiness Box and begin scrapping Happiness Box 2020. I appreciate you.

5. Lilli ☕, thank you for sending me stickers and recipe cards. I also want to thank you for encouraging me to start a GF foodie Instagram page. Your recipe help and encouragement has helped me learn how to bake confidently.

6. Tina Stone Tina Stone, I want to thank you for helping me pan sear that steak. It was delicious and I now prefer to eat my steak that way! *Bigsmile*

7. Friends and family. I’m thankful for all that they do for me, even if we all don’t see eye to eye. They remind me that it’s okay not to, and they love me for who I am.

8. A roof over my head, three meals per day, a bed to sleep in, clean water, healthy food, and I’m privileged to live in a First World Country.

9. The people of the Lehigh Valley, PA subreddit I moderate. They’ve helped me grow and a few have taught me the ins and outs of Discord. They make moderating easy. *Bigsmile*

10. The Community. When I found this site almost 15 years ago, you helped a lost teenager grow into a bit more confident adult. Thank you for that.

11.’s community. Same with the Reddit scrapbook community. They both helped me build back my crafting confidence by reminding me perfection doesn’t exist and they are my memories, I am free to design in any way I want (hell, I have to thank Elle for reminding me of this too).

12. The quarantine. I know, I know, crazy right? Not so fast! Being quarantined introduced me to Zoom and without Zoom, I wouldn’t have met company friends in other states. They’ve become a lifeline and one helped me get in touch with my new spiritual journey. I have also become a better writer with Gotham. I also was able to put more love into the Happiness Box 2019 scrapbook and the 2020 Box. Sharing layouts at the bottom that I just created for Happiness Box 2020.

13. My trauma. I know, I know, another crazy thing right? Through this pain and through this experience, I was able to start the Happiness Box Project and I was able to inspire others. While I would never wish what happened to me, I feel indebted to what this experience has allowed me to do with my life.

14. Infinite Body Piercing. The way the Infinite staff treat me, they made 2020’s self-care day even better. I knew that would happen because after the case was dropped, I went there and they comforted, then they comforted me before my liver tests and after.

15. Old City Tattoo. Like Infinite, the way they treat me and treated me on 2019’s self-care day, I love spending my time there. They make me feel comfortable and their artists are awesome.

16. Old Glory Tattoo. My Asbury Park tattoo place (I guess I now have two tattoo places) and similar to Old City Tattoo: kind artists who make sure I am comfortable and let me hang out in the studio after, as I waited for Jared. Tattoo artists, just like piercers, are kind people.

17. Philadelphia. I know, I complain about it from time to time, and while I don’t like the sports teams, the city is filled with lovely people. I love spending time in the city, from ice skating to roller skating, to restaurants, concerts, the orchestra, the museums and everything else. I’m grateful that I live near an open-minded city and while Philadelphians aren’t the best sports fans, they’re human just like the rest of us. I’ve never experienced anything bad in the city, like the Orange Man liked to say, but only kindness when I needed it.

18. Travelling.

Joy! Thank you for lending an ear and a shoulder, I really appreciate you. I’m thankful for your friendship and guidance.

20. Schnujo. Thank you for also lending an ear and a shoulder. I really appreciate you as well! Thank you for your friendship and guidance.

21. Nan. January will be 8 years since her death, and she is still with me in spirit. I’m thankful that she (and my dad) raised me and was my cheerleader. She was also my best friend and I truly believe she helped make my formative years so kind, pleasant, cheerful and that set the bar for normalcy to seek as an adult. I love Nan.

22. My Jewish groups! I’m Noahide and while I am still on my spiritual journey, they welcome me with opened arms. They want me to take my time and they’re happy to answer any questions I might have. It feels so lovely to be included in their events, programs, and volunteer activities. I am glad I read the newspaper in January 2017 and donated to the Jewish Federation. I’m glad it was around the time I did my DNA, found out I’m part Ashkenazi and the timing is a blessing. I’m glad my DNA doesn’t matter to them either.

23. I’m also thankful that my family accepts my spiritual journey and I’ve been able to celebrate my holidays while in quarantine.

24. Gregg and WRTI. Gregg is my favourite DJ on WRTI classical, and Ms. Blue is my favourite DJ on WRTI jazz. Both are super friendly and I love when they reply to my e-mails, which is always. That makes my day. It’s so simple, but meaningful. I love WRTI, as classical helps me relax.

25. Living in a climate with four seasons. I couldn’t live in a place with only one or two seasons, and the four seasons help shape my photography and writing. I love having variety.

November isn’t my only time for gratitude, I try to be grateful all year long. However, since November is a difficult month for me otherwise, and since it coincides with American Thanksgiving, I like to make a month of sharing gratitude.

A lot of these photos are from Halloween 2020, where everything was still masked and from a distance. I still was able to get selfies safely and had fun. I started my day at the Franklin Institute, where I became a member in August. I went on a river cruise at night. A lot of Halloween parties were cancelled due to the riots since Philadelphia had a curfew of 9pm. They waived that curfew on Halloween, but I found an earlier party, the river cruise from 5pm-9pm. It was perfect and I was able to get home by 10:30pm. I had a blast too.

Last weekend, Philadelphia put a kabosh on indoor dining, museums, and gatherings of more than 10 people. Concert halls are still closed and let me tell you, it felt odd walking by an empty Kimmel Center. I usually go to orchestras around this time of year and will be seeing them all online this year (I have to buy the tickets), which I’m grateful they are doing. The restaurants that still offer outdoor dining, I am dining there and any restaurant that offers take-out, I’ll take out. I’m dogsitting this weekend and after skating, I plan on bringing take-out back to Aunt Kathy’s. I’m grateful for the small businesses and performers and service workers, so I want to help.

Wraith also turned 18 months today! He has healed and we walk side by side on this journey together.

This year is different, but we all have so much to be grateful for. We are all in this together and we will bounce back stronger. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! What are you thankful for?

Published by


Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

One thought on “Thankful Thursday | Thanksgiving Edition | 26 November 2020”

  1. Happy ink-iversary to Wraith and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Jessica Marie!

    I like how you listed your traumas among the things for which to be thankful this day, because you learn and grow through facing hardship and adversity. As you reminded us and as president-elect Biden reminded us in his speech yesterday, there is nothing Americans cannot do, no crisis we cannot overcome, if we come together and work together as a people – the United States of America.

    I hope you enjoy your GF feast. Once again happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, dear friend JM!


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