Giving Thanks

November 26, 1998

What are you thankful for? we asked our readers.

A simple question. But with so many answers.

Little things. Big things. Things we have that others don't. The sound of a child's voice. A fluffy dog named Nunzio. A stranger's kindness. A set of bagpipes. A memory of closeness in a family that has grown apart. A hug, a laugh, the smell of rain. A second chance at life.

Thousands of people sent us their notes of thanks, far too many, unfortunately, to publish here. What follows is just a small sampling of their amazing breadth. But we hope it inspires you, before the day is over, to turn to that parent, that child, that stranger and say, simply, "Thanks."

I find myself indebted to a woman. We've never met. Little more than her name is known to me. She doesn't live in my neighborhood. She doesn't live in Baltimore or the United States. She lives in the town of Kursk, Russia, and over two years ago she made the difficult and courageous decision to give up her son. On Jan. 20, 1998, my husband and I adopted him. Every morning since, when he greets me with a smile that goes from ear to ear, I say a silent thank-you to that brave woman for the joy we have experienced.

Mrs. Pat Szymanik

Baltimore

An oversized belly from a home cooked meal. A telephone conversation long overdue from a trusting friend. The adrenaline rush received from your favorite rock song.

Brian J. Donahue

Berlin

I am thankful for my mom. because my Dad cant cuk. And I wudint git tuct in at niet. And I wud be sad because my mom wud not be there for me. And wen my mom wudint be hom. And wen my mom isint ther to se me. I love my mom.

Andrea Kemph

1st Grade, Friendship Valley Elementary

My Thanksgiving comes every May 15, but in November I am reminded of how grateful I am for my parents -- two modern-day pilgrims. On that day in May over 30 years ago, my parents left everything in their homeland to come to America for a better life for their two young daughters. Now that I am the same age as my mother was then, with two children of my own, I cannot imagine the sacrifice, fortitude and courage it took to embark on that voyage. They are my pilgrims because they embody the true spirit of Thanksgiving, both the price people pay for freedom and the bountifulness of its rewards.

Lorena Wilson

Phoenix

It's been 22 years since you left this earth and not a day goes by that I don't think of you and all you did for me. Richard William Foster, you took a poor little seamstress with no future and made her wealthy beyond her dreams. You gave her a life, possibilities, security, a daughter and the power to help so many others. All this and the great comfort to know you have never left my side.

Linda A. Foster

Glen Arm

Thank God for Julius, Richard and Jerry, successful graduates of the Homeless at Old St. Paul's that we run. ... They have gone from the bottom rung of life to this: one is in job training, one is happily ensconced at a rehab farm [as a chef] and one has a very good job with a large firm and his own lodging.

Sue & Don Lynne

Lutherville

With no formal coaching, seminars or reviews to boost their morale, my parents spent years turning socks right-side out, quizzing us on "times tables," and applauding at (yawn) holiday concerts. They were creative consultants on shoebox dioramas, an upbeat cheering section at losing games, and tireless repeaters of our family code of conduct. In an age where celebrity is honored as a character attribute, I find myself reflecting on the only true heroes I've ever known. Thank you, Mom and Dad.

Janet Fricke Gilbert

Woodstock

I am thankful that my brother Chuck didn't get hit by Iraq on his Navy ship.

Marie Buckland

Middle River Middle School

I am thankful for a wonderful loving husband who I have been married to for 56 years. Little did I know when I, as a teen-age Wisconsin girl, got a valentine from an orphan teen-age boy in Washington, D.C., that it would lead to all these years of happiness.

Dorothy A.J. Charest

Catonsville

Today I'm thankful for God's angels. Angels performing through people. Angels holding tears and unfolding smiles. Angels guarding my Love of Loves, who passed away. Angels guiding my helpers when I'm at my worst. Angels who kept me alive many times when I should have died. Angels seen in children's eyes. Angels holding the hurt and broken hearts. Angels easing death. Angelic newborn babes.

Donna Vigor

Frederick

The blessing I am most grateful for is the laughter of my five young children. The sweet sound of it fills our home and my soul like sunshine.

Belinda Cromwell

Baltimore

I am thankful for my self. because ef I wasit my self I wid be [somebody] els. and I like myself.

Tyler Joyave

1st Grade, Friendship Valley Elementary

In my life I have seen death, fallen in and out of love, learned, worked, done too many drugs, read too few books, found faith, lost faith, dreamed, cried, sang, laughed, breathed. I had not until recently, however, experienced exactly what life is all about. And for the first time ever, I am truly thankful.

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