Thankful For, 2021

Sarah Buttenwieser
3 min readNov 25, 2021


Northampton Bike Path, November 2021

Health, and supporting it for myself, my family, my community, and my dear ones

The science that delivered us vaccines so quickly and effectively and promises anti-viral treatments imminently

Sun and clouds

Knowing, caring for, being cared for by friends and family — even, perhaps especially through the challenges of twenty months in at least semi-sequestration some during, some after an unbelievable and harrowing four year-rule not of law, but grift and hate

Engaging in work that feels meaningful

Committing to the deep work of repair, reparation, healing

Appreciation of simplest pleasures — a fine, deep breath, a compelling book, a funny moment, a square of dark chocolate, receipt of a postcard, a warm hello at the café or school drop-off, and on

Kids teaching us, always pushing us to grow and to keep appreciating our lives

Loving, being loved


Thursday morning: sun shining, eight-zone wake-up, a little more sleep to start this weird Thanksgiving Day off from Thanksgiving. Heather wrote about the Civil War era attempts to protect a day for gratitude for all — meaning the inclusion of formerly enslaved citizens. The verdict of guilt across three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery trial felt like a tiny nod toward justice. A twenty-five-year-old runner is still dead, his family and friends still grieving, grieving forevermore. Kevin Strickland was released from prison after sixty-two years for a crime he did not commit. No amount of money replaces that kind of time. Trauma cannot be bought away, either. Beauty spins itself from grains of sand. Fragmentation and coalescing are the modes we were given. That Leonard Cohen quote about finding healing in the cracks where the light shines through seems to me to be true only in as there are mostly cracks everywhere over years and decades and centuries and still. We cannot stop shattering.

Maybe because we aren’t doing a BIG THING today, I feel at just enough remove from turkeys and pies and capital ‘F’ family (mine or others). I feel calmly ready for a day, removed from trying to decide how to treat a holiday celebrating massacre and theft, along with communal meals and kumbaya. I wrote Susan, who sent a message wishing me a happy American Thanksgiving — she’s in Vancouver — how so much of Thanksgiving is fraught, save for gratitude, which is always my jam.

I’m going to run on the shorter side — then ice, roll, stretch — and we are planning a walk, a meal from the Great Wall around our table, a movie, a Gilmore Girls’ episode. I plan to make cranberries today for tomorrow. Saskia needs to pack for NYC. We’ll call the people elsewhere. It all seems pretty mellow and full and lovely. I am grateful for what isn’t simple but feels good for an odd year, not yet out of a pandemic, as we’d hoped.



Sarah Buttenwieser

Writer, brainstormer, networker — follow me on Twitter @standshadows