What’s Kansas City thankful for this year? Here’s what readers and leaders had to say

·28 min read

Five months have passed since David Hines — so fiercely independent that he was still, in his 90s, tramping alone into Michigan’s big woods — died at his daughter’s Kansas City home.

This Thanksgiving, Elaine Hines remains grateful to have shared those final months with her ailing father, holding his hand on the afternoon he died in June at age 95.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is grateful for a Kansas City community that welcomed him and his family. Housing activist Tara Raghuveer is grateful for steadfast people standing shoulder to shoulder in the fight to give the houseless roofs over their heads and decent lives.

Twenty months into the COVID-19 pandemic, sisters Deborah Jones and Mary Jones-Mosely of Jones Bar-B-Q thank God and their customers that their restaurants still exist.

“Our grandma always told us,” the sisters said, “be thankful for whatever you got, whether it’s a lot or nothing or something.”

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a holiday that from its beginning tied together gratitude, hardship and, for some, mourning. Four hundred years ago in November 1621, the Pilgrims arrived on Wampanoag land now called Massachusetts. They celebrated at the Plymouth colony for three days, knowing that nearly half of the original 102 passengers on the Mayflower did not survive the prior winter. Were it not for the help of some members of the Wampanoag tribe, the rest may have perished also. Even though the peace between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag didn’t last, with their first harvest, they gave thanks.

No year is without hardship. The COVID-19 pandemic continues. Headlines are filled with division over masks and mandates, over race and inequities.

Yet in terms of gratitude, there is no division.

The Star put the following question to area residents — some known to many, others less so: What, if anything, are you thankful for this year? Their answers, some in interviews and some in mini-essays, touch at the heart of the holiday: friends, family, health, the gifts of dance and music.

As one said, fittingly, “Watching my kids hug their grandparents after a year of Zoom calls feels like a blessing.”

Elaine Hines of Kansas City, Kansas, is thankful she was able to care for her father, David Hines, 95, in her home during the last months of his life before he passed away on June 27, 2021. Her father, seen in the photo at left, moved from Michigan to Wyandotte County to live with his daughter during the pandemic.
Elaine Hines of Kansas City, Kansas, is thankful she was able to care for her father, David Hines, 95, in her home during the last months of his life before he passed away on June 27, 2021. Her father, seen in the photo at left, moved from Michigan to Wyandotte County to live with his daughter during the pandemic.

Elaine Hines, Kansas City, Kansas, reader

Hines wrote to The Star about how grateful she is to have shared an unexpected season of life with her dad.

Her father, David Hines, moved back to Kansas City and into her home, where she was able to spend time with and care for him for months before he died cancer at age 95.

Elaine had grown up in Independence, but her father moved to Michigan in the 1980s after he retired from Armco Steel.

“He had lived 900 miles away for most of my adult life,” she said. “If I saw [my parents] once a year, it was a big deal. But I got to spend his last Thanksgiving and last Christmas with him.”

Elaine said her dad was “fiercely independent” and liked living alone in his “little house in the big woods,” insisting on scraping the snow off his trailer roof on his own and continuing to volunteer at the local library well into his 90s. But when he came back to Kansas City to live with her, she got to connect with him in a new way.

“I never had children of my own, and it was kind of like the parent and child roles were reversed,” she said. “If he had a bad dream, I would comfort him.”

Elaine was able to work from home, which allowed her to be with her dad more. She’d make lunch for both of them and check on him throughout the day. David got right back into watching the Chiefs again, and the two went to his favorite Independence drive-ins, Mugs Up and HiBoy.

Elaine said that David had a long, full life and was ready to go when his time came. After a fall that he knew he wouldn’t be able to recover from, she said, he thanked her for taking care of him until the end, when she was right there with him holding his hands.

“I’m so thankful he was here,” Elaine said. “If you still have parents or family around, spend all the time you can with them. Someday, you’ll wish you had more.”

Ellie Wyatt, reader
Ellie Wyatt, reader

Ellie Wyatt, West Plaza, Kansas City, reader

Wyatt had lived in Kansas City years ago, and she returned in 2019, right before the pandemic changed all of our lives. It was just enough time to find favorite places and then not be able to experience them in the same way.

She wrote to The Star: “I’m thankful for all the wonderful restaurants, arts, theater and music venues in our great little city that have survived the pandemic and are now able to flourish again with the support of the KC community. I’m thankful for avoiding COVID-19 and for my vaccine.”

Wyatt said she was particularly grateful to be able to return to the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts.

“I love being in that building for anything,” she said. “It’s so beautiful, and on a nice night being able to look out at the city, that’s really a special thing.”

Wyatt said she’s thankful for new local businesses “that have been adventurous enough to open in the midst of the pandemic,” like Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue and Chewology {gyoza bar} in Westport.

She has plans to see the Kansas City Symphony’s Christmas show and other holiday festivities in the city.

“My calendar is so full coming up,” she said. “I’m doing stuff, and I’m so happy about and thankful for that.”

Jacqueline Dickinson Randle, reader, and her father James Dickinson
Jacqueline Dickinson Randle, reader, and her father James Dickinson

Jacqueline Dickinson Randle, Kansas City, Kansas, reader

Last year on Thanksgiving, Dickinson Randle was recovering from COVID, and even though she couldn’t taste a thing, her mom still sent food to her house.

“She still cooked dinner even though we couldn’t gather,” Dickinson Randle said.

This year, her whole family is vaccinated and will be gathering at her 78-year-old mother Gwendolyn Dickinson’s house again for the whole nine yards: turkey, dressing, homemade rolls, fried corn, macaroni and cheese, honey baked ham and sweet potato pie.

It’s not lost on Dickinson Randle that most of her friends don’t have their parents around to still celebrate the holidays with.

She wrote to The Star: “I am thankful to be 61 years old and still have both parents who married young and are still going strong in their marriage. My dad has had some recent health challenges and mom has been right there to support and care for him. They are a team!”

Dickinson Randle said she’s grateful for the ways her relationship with her parents, and her father James Dickinson in particular, has evolved over the years.

“I’ve always talked to my mother pretty much every day all my life, but my father, not so much,” she said. “He was always working and stuff. But now, he calls me more.”

She talks with her father on the phone every day, and she said it has meant a lot to her.

“I realized he’s where I get my positive attitude from,” she said. “I used to think, ‘Where do I get my positivity from,’ and I believe it’s from him.”

Dickinson Randle’s parents met as children in rural Arkansas, and they’ve been married for 58 years. They moved to Kansas City so she and her brother could have “more opportunities.”

“A lot that they didn’t get, they made sure I had,” she said. “And I’m so thankful for them.”

Here is what some local leaders and celebrities had to say about gratitude this year.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid leads his team into a Week 4 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid leads his team into a Week 4 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid

“Kansas City is a special place. When we first arrived here, the community welcomed my family with open arms. Tammy and I have really embraced being a part of this community. The support has been incredible, and I’m grateful to the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization for allowing me to be the head football coach here in front of the best fans in football.”

Deborah Jones and Mary Jones-Mosley, sisters who own Jones Bar-B-Q, have tried to keep a positive attitude this past year.
Deborah Jones and Mary Jones-Mosley, sisters who own Jones Bar-B-Q, have tried to keep a positive attitude this past year.

Deborah Jones and Mary Jones-Mosley, Jones Bar-B-Q

“Every day we wake up thankful for a new day.

“It’s been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, seemingly turning the world upside-down. We’ve seen businesses shut down. We’ve seen the pandemic get worse, then better, then worse once again. Now it looks like it’s getting better again.

“We stayed open through it all, following social distancing protocols, hoping our restaurant could provide some comfort and normalcy at a moment when it looked like nothing was normal. Nothing was the same.

“But our grandma always told us, ‘Be thankful for whatever you got, whether it’s a lot, or nothing or something.’ We both have each other. We have God. When the pandemic started and as things started getting worse, we prayed constantly. Worrying about what was happening wasn’t going to solve anything. So we decided to keep trucking along, taking it one day at a time.

“Sometimes it can be easy to look at what’s happening in the world — the division, the chaos, the fighting — and only focus on that. But you have to look at everything and be appreciative of that. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a simple hello as we greet a new customer.

“It could be a smile on someone’s face.

“We’ve met some of the world’s most wonderful people thanks to our business and thanks to the journey we’re on.

“And we’re thankful that journey will continue.”

Tara Raghuveer, KC Tenants
Tara Raghuveer, KC Tenants

Tara Raghuveer, KC Tenants

On a Friday evening in August, Ro’Nisha Rogers hosted about 40 neighbors from Heart Village Mobile Home Park for a barbeque on her lawn. Kids jumped on the trampoline as adults made conversation over hot dogs and soda. Elders sat on lawn chairs and dogs ran laps around the gathering. Music played on a speaker as a KC Tenants leader worked the grill. Earlier that week, residents had organized a showdown at the Jackson County legislative meeting, winning compensation after the county purchased the trailer park to build a jail that will displace them from their homes. Amidst months of anguish, this was a moment to celebrate.

“Ernesta ‘Nessi’ Coulbourne attended her first KC Tenants meeting on a Saturday morning in September. She and her family had been evicted from their home during the pandemic in Delaware. Nessi and her family shuffled between shelters and hotel rooms before arriving in Kansas City, searching for a permanent home. Nessi shared her story with the group in that first meeting. Afterwards, other KC Tenants leaders chanted: ‘Nessi, we have your back!’ Through tears, Nessi shared, ‘I’ve been longing for this space, but I never knew it existed. After being homeless for a year with no support, y’all made me feel safe.’

“Starting in October, tenants have gathered on Tuesday nights in a church basement in midtown. Ms. Pat, Nikki, and Julie come from Armour Flats, just around the corner, and other tenants get rides to the meeting from their neighbors. Gathered round circular tables, attendees swap stories about an affordable, diverse midtown of the not-so-distant past. Recently, the Armour Flats tenants received 30-day notices to vacate their homes so their landlord could renovate and increase the rent. The Tuesday meetings became a place for strategizing to fight against this threat and keep Pat, Nikki, and Julie in their homes.

“These are scenes of solidarity, just a few examples from recent months. This year, I’m thankful to know solidarity in the many forms it takes at KC Tenants. It can feel inevitable that tenants will be forced to live in mold-filled apartments, that rents will rise, that developers will get tax breaks to build parking garages and luxury housing. But that’s not inevitable — not if we organize. I’m thankful for the people forging together, showing up for one another, and building a better Kansas City for us all.”

Kansa Rep. Sharice Davids
Kansa Rep. Sharice Davids

Sharice Davids, U.S. House of Representatives for Kansas’ 3rd District

“This year, I am feeling thankful and reflective. Of my time serving the Third District in Congress, nearly two-thirds has been under the shadow of the pandemic. We’ve gotten through it, together, and I am grateful for the support and strength of our community throughout this trying time. None of us is unscathed by the pandemic — I’d even say many of us are traumatized. But I am grateful for my part in making a difference, helping folks keep their businesses open, their bills paid, their children in school and their families fed. I never stop feeling honored by the opportunity to share the voices of our community, but seeing the sun come through the clouds on this pandemic makes it that much more of an honor to have weathered it — and to continue to work towards a brighter future — alongside each of you.

“And this year, my Thanksgiving is decidedly better than last. For that, I am incredibly grateful for modern medicine and the scientists and frontline healthcare workers who have allowed me and so many others to see our families this year. Last year, fear of the virus replaced the joy and warmth that usually marks the holiday season, turning many family gatherings — mine included — into question marks. This year, joy, warmth and family make their return, thanks to the protection of the vaccine. I wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday, and I’ll see you all soon.”

Mitchell Irving Jr. (Irv Da Phenom) relaxing and reflecting on his accomplishments this year.
Mitchell Irving Jr. (Irv Da Phenom) relaxing and reflecting on his accomplishments this year.

Irv Da Phenom, rapper

With over a decade in the music game, Mitchell Irving Jr., better known as Irv Da Phenom, has long cemented himself as one of the hottest hip-hop artists out of the Kansas City area. All of which he attributes to his fans.

“I am grateful to have fans that have been rocking with me over 10 years and still stay tapped in, even though I haven’t been able to tour the same. So that’s always a blessing,” says Irving, who grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and released his album “Certified Lover Man” this year.

Though COVID-19 may have slowed Irving’s touring, it forced him to connect to new audiences through social media.

“It’s a blessing to have people like you and your creativity, no matter what the canvas is you choose to give it to them on,” he says. “It’s interesting watching the platforms change. So as a recording artist, you make music and then you get on TikTok and make a skit and see new fans.”

The 33-year-old rapper, singer and songwriter also is thankful for the creative growth among the metro’s Black-owned businesses.

“I am thankful to watch a lot of my friends and peers have their own businesses and seeing those companies blossom into things that are going to be staples here,” he says. “I’m watching these companies start up and they are thriving. I am inspired seeing all the growth. They are building opportunities.

“These kids are going to be able to grow up and being able to watch Black entrepreneurs showing them they can do it.”

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi passes the ball in front of Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner during a match Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi passes the ball in front of Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner during a match Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.

Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City

“During the holiday season, I am frequently reminded just how fortunate I am to be living out my dream as a professional soccer player. None of it would be possible without a remarkable support network.

“First and foremost, I am thankful for my parents. I am thankful for my entire family — especially my brother, my two sisters and my grandparents — and for my girlfriend. I am thankful for my teammates and friends.

“I am thankful for my health. To play the game I love well into my 30s — and with only one long-term injury over the last 13 seasons — is something I could have only imagined when I joined Sporting Kansas City in 2009. To that end, I am grateful for the people who have allowed me to keep competing for so long, including the coaches, trainers and support staff here at Sporting.

“I am thankful for all of Kansas City. The people here and the fans who support our club are the salt of the earth. I can’t tell you how many awesome exchanges I’ve had with Kansas Citians I don’t even know. This powerful dynamic has made me, a Florida native, feel so fortunate to spend my career here. Kansas City has become home for me — and as cool as the city has become, it’s the people who truly set it apart.

“I am thankful for the memories. I think about being drafted to the Wizards in 2009. Winning the MLS Cup in 2013. Hoisting three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups. Painting the wall at Children’s Mercy Park. Interacting with fans at the stadium and elsewhere. Engaging with children through The Victory Project and various youth soccer clinics. Every minute of it has been an absolute pleasure and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“Lastly, I am thankful for VAR.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Kansas City!”

Ron Ryckman, speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, is pictured with his grandfather and his father. From left to right: Ron Ryckman Jr., Willard Ryckman, and Ron Ryckman, Sr.
Ron Ryckman, speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, is pictured with his grandfather and his father. From left to right: Ron Ryckman Jr., Willard Ryckman, and Ron Ryckman, Sr.

Ron Ryckman, speaker, Kansas House of Representatives

“As a state, we have so much to be grateful for – the promise of a good education, modern medicine to steer our nation through this COVID-19 pandemic, the resilience of our frontline workers, and the persistence of our local businesses to weather these past 20 months.

“But, I want to take this space to send a more personal Thanksgiving message to the man who showed me what it means to live life with a thankful heart and to serve with a servant’s heart.

“Dad, thank you for being a hands-on father. By being present, you sent a message that has shaped who I am today, taught me how to be a father and inspired me to serve my community.

“You were a patient coach. Watching you coach my basketball team, I learned how important it is to make time and take a genuine interest in my kids’ activities. There will always be work to tackle. But, as the kids were growing up, your example taught me we never get those years back. I am grateful that I made the time to coach their teams and truly enjoy that time with them and their friends. I learned that from you.

“You were a fair teacher. Growing up in a small town school, I didn’t always enjoy having my dad in the classroom. But, I’ve come to appreciate how special it was to watch you treat every student with fairness and kindness, and to inspire others with your passion for government. It’s a passion and an approach you bring to the Legislature today. Even during the most heated disagreements at the Statehouse, you listen to every side, act fairly and treat everyone with respect. In a world where politics have become so divisive, it’s a lesson we can all learn from you.

“You are a loving father and son. You have never shied away from showing your love – through affection toward mom, affection for your kids and grandkids, the special bond you have with grandpa, and a warm handshake and smile for everyone you meet. Life is short. We need to make sure the people we love and the people who have touched our lives know what they mean to us. I learned that from you.

“God’s blessings this Thanksgiving, dad (you too, mom) — and God’s blessings to every father, mother, teacher, coach and mentor who has influenced our lives.”

Nate Hogan, chair of the Kansas City Public Schools board, is happy to serve the next generation of scholars.
Nate Hogan, chair of the Kansas City Public Schools board, is happy to serve the next generation of scholars.

Nate Hogan, Kansas City Public Schools

Nate Hogan’s primary occupation is in the health care technologies field. But he says his work as chair of the Kansas City Public Schools board is what he’s most thankful for.

“It’s a passion. I always tell people it’s the most fulfilling professional thing I have ever done, and I don’t get paid for it. It is some of the most important work you can do because you’re literally talking about the future of a city,” said Hogan, who joined the board in 2019 and became its chair in April.

He’s also grateful for this: Last month, he and his wife, Felecia, launched The Hogan Family Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Their initial $8,000 donation, with more to come, is targeted toward minority KCPS graduates pursuing a degree through UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Hogan, a high school dropout, earned his MBA there and is now vice president for Healthcare Solutions at NIC Corp. in Olathe.

He says the scholarship redefines how potential is measured.

“We wanted to make it a no-barrier scholarship,” said Hogan, who expects each recipient to receive $2,000. “We don’t care about who has the highest GPA. It is not based on academics or performance. Just a student’s desire to go and improve their life through college.”

David Feinberg, President and CEO of Cerner
David Feinberg, President and CEO of Cerner

David Feinberg, Cerner president and CEO

“In year two of a disruptive and devastating global pandemic, this Thanksgiving is an opportune time for families to reflect on their blessings, show gratitude and be together. Hopefully you and yours are able to spend long-overdue time together.

“Today, I’m thankful for many things: my family, the caregivers on the frontlines of this pandemic and my chance to join Cerner. My wife, Andrea, and I recently moved to Kansas City for this role and we’ve been blown away by how livable, hip and fun Kansas City is. I feel like I’ve come home.

“Coming home brings more clarity into what we can all do at Cerner to change healthcare. We have an opportunity to impact millions of lives, by making patient care more efficient and by making physicians’ and nurses’ jobs easier. But along with improving care quality, we’re also working towards addressing critical issues like expanding access to care accessibility and fairness for underserved populations, racism in healthcare and non-clinical health factors like food, housing and transportation (social factors account for about 80% of a person’s health issues).

“After nearly two months into this role, Cerner — more than any other company — provides me the unique opportunity to affect real change and improvements in healthcare — from the patient and caregiver experience to quality of care and accessibility and more. That work doesn’t happen without the expertise and help of the 26,000 global associates at Cerner — many of whom also call Kansas City home. Thank you, Cerner associates, for what you’ve built and where we are now headed together.

“Additionally, this Thanksgiving, I’m also thankful for Messenger Coffee’s warm cup and avocado toast. I’m thankful for the ability to run along Riverfront Park, stopping by BarK to visit some dogs. I’m thankful for the River Market, where we buy produce, and for the world-class Nelson Atkins and Kemper art museums. I’m thankful for the vibey restaurants in the area — Farina and Café Gratitude have become early favorites — and know there are many others. I’m thankful for the symphony and hopeful for the Chiefs

“Kansas City is a beautiful place and I love the unpretentious, friendly Midwestern hospitality we’ve found here. On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful, for many reasons, to call Kansas City home.”

Kansas City Ballet dancer Amaya Rodriguez in this fall’s “Amor Brujo.”
Kansas City Ballet dancer Amaya Rodriguez in this fall’s “Amor Brujo.”

Amaya Rodriguez, Kansas City Ballet

Rodriguez will dance four roles in the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker,” and something feels different, something special. She’s felt it since having her first child more than two years ago — a new confidence on stage.

“After being a mom, I feel like when I go on stage, I have so many reasons to enjoy what I’m doing,” said Rodriguez, 34, who joined the troupe in 2016. “It’s magic. It’s literally magic, and I feel stronger than before.”

Rodriguez is grateful for the support of her ballet family as she and her husband, Enrique Fuente, both Cuban natives, have welcomed not one but two children since May 2019, when son Lucas was born. Daughter Melany arrived in December.

“It’s been so hard because I don’t have family here. Literally my family is this company, my husband, my babies. That’s it,” said Rodriguez.

Becoming a mom while dancing full time “was hard, beautiful and at the same time something wonderful in my life,” she said. “I am the first ballerina in the history of the Kansas City Ballet to be a mom and get back to dancing.”

The physical work it took to get her body back in shape brought her to near tears as she trained. It felt like she might never dance again.

But then her muscles remembered that she was a ballerina, and she danced in “Swan Lake.”

In October, she danced in “Amor Brujo,” the company’s first major post-lockdown performance and her first since having Melany.

She says her body is ready for “The Nutcracker,” which runs Dec. 2-24 at the Kauffman Center, even though she’s “still waking up a couple of times a night” to feed the baby, then working through six grueling hours of rehearsal.

“If I could wish something, if I could change something in my life, I would say I don’t want to change anything. I want what I have right now,” she said.

Though Kansas City winters are “so different” from tropical Cuba, and her mom and grandmother still live there, Kansas City is home now.

And she loves it here.

“Every time when I go to stage, it’s like (an explosion) of emotions,” she said. “Every time I feel like I want to give all my heart to every single person in the audience.”

Justice Horn, KC activist, candidate for Jackson County legislature
Justice Horn, KC activist, candidate for Jackson County legislature

Justice Horn, activist and legislative candidate for Jackson County

“This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the friends, family members, and Kansas Citians I have gotten to spend time with this past year.

“It’s been a challenging year for a lot of us; from the Black Lives Matter protests, a global pandemic, a presidential election, and the continuous push for a more just community; we have all been a part of that story. But those have all been moments that have shown me the hearts of those around me and that there are better days ahead of us. Those are moments I hope we all hold close to our hearts because we all thought things couldn’t get worse, we were tested, and this community’s heart has always prevailed over any and all challenges against us.

“Our community has a fighting spirit and that’s something I’ll always be thankful for.

“Personally, I’m extremely thankful for my close LGBTQ+ friends, my best friend Crissy Dastrup, and my family who continues to love on me especially when I need it. My family has sacrificed a lot for me, and that’s something I’ll always be thankful for.

“Thank you Mom and Dad for all that you do and thank you to my siblings as well, I love you Shanice and J’shon! My family and the challenges I have seen this community overcome is what also drove me to make the decision official to run for the Jackson County Legislature to represent District 1 this past year.

“I’m forever thankful for my team and the community around me who continue to make this process possible. I hope come April 2022 and November 2022, we can change the landscape of local politics to one that is centered around the simple ideal of showing up and loving your neighbor.

“Nevertheless, I’m eternally thankful for those I got to meet throughout this crazy thing called life, and I hope you all send a thank you to someone you love today. Let’s normalize being thankful for one another from here on out as well.

“I love you Kansas City.”

Rui Xu, Kansas state lawmaker from Westwood

“This Thanksgiving, after the last 2 years that we’ve had, what I’m most thankful for is not clever nor witty nor novel. In a world where quippy is king, what I’m thankful for cannot be properly expressed in a tweet or TikTok, valuable and fun as those platforms might be. This year (and what a year), what I’m most thankful for is boringly, nostalgically, old fashioned but, I would hazard a guess, is exactly the same thing the vast majority of Americans would say they’re most thankful for: their family.

“My job as a state representative is partisanly political. I love what I do and I cherish every single moment I get to do it, but the fact remains that the system and the coverage around it thrives around division: moderate vs progressive, Democrat vs Republican, House vs Senate.

“My wife Kearsha exists to do the opposite. She is a labor and delivery nurse, managing a floor of employees who have been worked to the brink over the course of the pandemic. She, like so many essential workers, were asked to shoulder such a heavy burden in the early days of the pandemic and did so with a smile on her face because her patients desperately needed that, especially when so much else was uncertain. Her job is incredibly tough; she sees people on their best days and she sees them on their worst days, but she has always kept an unflinchingly positive outlook on humanity. She is aware of the divisions in our politics and in our society, but none of that is relevant to what she does: her job is to care for everyone and give everyone the best possible care.

“Astra, our 2 year-old-toddler, is blissfully unaware of basically everything that happens outside our four walls. Like most toddlers, she is currently a distressing combination of curious, playful, and mischievous but her awe in discovering something new is something that reminds me to keep learning every single day. On my darkest nights in the Kansas legislature — nights where partisanship turns into real harm for Kansans — she, true to her name, remains my guiding star. The future is always worth fighting for.

“As an elected official, the pandemic has been an interesting time; one in which the definition of public health and public good came continuously into question. As we ramp up for the January legislative session, which will be full of divisive topics, going into campaign season, I will continue towards my family, Kearsha and Astra, as reminders to look for reasons to unite and to learn and to fight.”

Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield celebrates in the dugout after scoring from third on a hit by Salvador Perez in the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield celebrates in the dugout after scoring from third on a hit by Salvador Perez in the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals second baseman

“I’m thankful for so many things by mainly my family and my health. My family has been such a pillar in my life that I wouldn’t be where I am or the man I am without each and every one of them. And of course my health, especially in recent times. I’m thankful that quality, healthy practices were instilled into me at a young age. Both physically and mentally. It’s put my body and mind in the best position it can possibly be in, not only for my profession, but for the current state of the world in which we live in. I wish you all health and happiness over the holidays. See you in 2022. God bless!”

Keri Ingle, Missouri state representative from Lee’s Summit
Keri Ingle, Missouri state representative from Lee’s Summit

Keri Ingle, Missouri state representative from Lee’s Summit

“I forced myself not to tear up as my 5-year-old received her first Covid vaccination on Monday. My 10-year-old son came home from receiving his first Covid vaccination the next day and flexed his bicep to show me his cool Band-Aid (and bravery). I talked to them both about what those vaccines meant, that they would be able to see their 80 year old grandparents this Christmas, that this is a big step toward returning to ‘normal.’

“After 2020, I was thankful for a return to some normalcy. Then came an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol while I was sworn into my second term at the Capitol in Jefferson City. Then came two back to back quarantines of 10 days a piece after being exposed to Covid-positive colleagues in Jefferson City, quarantines where I didn’t see my husband or kids for the better part of a month. Over the summer I lost friends and a very beloved Aunt to Covid, and I joined in the collective grief happening across the world. The last two years we have grieved for indescribable loss, of loved ones, opportunities, a future we could predict, for the simple connections with those around us. But that loss has brought me gratitude. Things I never expected to miss, going grocery shopping and to restaurants with friends, now feel like a gift. Watching my kids hug their grandparents after a year of Zoom calls feels like a blessing. These gifts of time together with those we’ve been Covid-estranged-from feel like Thanksgiving.

“I am so thankful for the work and sacrifices of those who developed the vaccines which allow us to come back together safely. I hope we never forget what we missed, and that we cherish ‘normal.’”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting