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This Thanksgiving, more so than others, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the ability to celebrate with my family and friends. Last year at this time, COVID-19 put many traditions on hold and made the atmosphere around the day feel a little less merry. This year, Thanksgiving offered me a true break from the chaos of the normalcy I have found again. Brown’s return to full in-person operations has been wonderful, and I have truly enjoyed being able to socialize with my friends, learn from my professors, and practice with my teammates in person. However, this hectic semester has left me little time to sleep, let alone take a step back and reflect. Amidst the mashing of potatoes and chopping of Brussel sprouts, I decided to make a list of some of the things that made me feel grateful. Here are some of the highlights!

  1. My family. An obvious one, but this year I am making sure to spend extra time with my parents and relatives. After all, spending time away from home is always bound to make a trip back feel much more special. This year, I was sure to pencil in lots of walks with my mom and dad, lunch with my cousins, and FaceTime calls to my grandparents who live farther away. 
  2. My friends from high school. Some college students dread a return to their hometown, not knowing how to fill the five days of boredom. Although many choose to cut ties with high school friends, I have kept in close contact with almost all of them. In less than one week, we have played tennis matches, attended multiple bonfires, hosted a Friendsgiving, and even stopped by a local bar in our town for a makeshift high school reunion!
  3. Tinx. Ahhh, my favorite influencer. This year, I’m thankful for all of the advice I absorb from constantly viewing Tinx’s Instagram story and TikTok platform. No matter how absurd her content gets, I enjoy following the never-ending stream of drama that ensues. 
  4. New Taylor Swift music. Red (Taylor’s Version) has played on loop since it was released a few weeks ago. Somehow, Taylor always knows exactly when to drop new hits so that they perfectly coincide with our life events. Plus, Red’s fall vibes made it the perfect background music for cooking Thanksgiving dinner… I’m also thankful my family let me control the playlist this year. 
  5. My health. Specifically, during the pandemic, I have realized how important it is to be grateful for good health. While sometimes it’s easy to take for granted, I realized the importance of prioritizing health and wellness when my friends dragged me (literally) to a 5-mile “turkey trot” on the morning of Thanksgiving. I was freezing and completely unprepared, but somehow my legs carried me across the finish line. Despite the persistent soreness in my calves, I was very grateful for the ability to participate.
  6. My mom’s apple pie. Every fall, I crave only one dessert – my mom’s famous apple pie. Ever since I was a child, I have always looked forward to apple season and the delicious dessert that came along with it. This year’s rendition of the pie seemed to taste even better than in the past!
  7. My roommates at Brown. Freshman year, I was not excited to make my return to campus. To me, it meant nothing but finals, dining hall food, and more social angst about where and when to pregame on a Friday night. Now, I’ve found myself missing my three roommates – despite just six days of separation – and keeping a running list of topics I have to discuss with them upon our return. This year, I’m grateful for the people who make it exciting to come back to Brown after a few days. 
Maddie is a junior at Brown from Connecticut. She is concentrating in Economics.
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