Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and while we are all looking forward to a day full of food, family, and friends, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on what each of us is thankful for and share our thoughts with all of you. We would also like to express our thanks for all of our wonderful friends, partners, and supporters who believe in the work we do at the Institute and help us advance our mission of parks as problem solvers.


This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and their unending love and support. I am thankful for my sister who recently taught me how to be on top of my emoji game and my brother for keeping me in the loop with all of the happenings back east. I am thankful for my mom for being a wealth of knowledge and for always being available to answer my many life questions. I am thankful for my dad for always keeping me grounded and for reminding me of all the things that I can achieve. I am thankful for my grandmother for being the coolest lady I know, for sending the best care packages, for baking the best sweet potato pies in the world, and for always showing me life’s silver linings. Finally, I am thankful for my roommates who have been monumental in making San Francisco feel like home, and for always cooking, laughing, dancing, and drinking the tastiest wine with me.


I’m thankful for Thanksgiving. Ok, I realize that may sound a little strange, but hear me out and I’ll explain. Growing up in England—where they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving—it wasn’t until I moved to the United States as an adult that I discovered this special day each year where we get to stop and take the time to appreciate everything we have. For me, I love spending time with my family and friends over a good dinner. This year, I’m feeling deeply grateful to live here in the San Francisco Bay Area—a truly special part of the world—and to work for the Institute in support of a mission I believe in so passionately.

United They Stand…

But Only One of Them Enjoys Thanksgiving!


I’m thankful for the recent rains and hopeful of more in the coming months. While I am always thankful for the amazing outdoor adventures in our own backyard (my hat’s off to all park and public land agencies!) and the beautiful weather that allows us to explore them year-round, I also appreciate a good excuse to curl up on the couch with a warm beverage, a good book or movie, and loved ones by my side. I also can’t help but think about California’s extreme drought and keep my fingers crossed that we get some measure of relief this winter!


I’m most thankful for the health of my family. It wasn’t always the case that my family was in good health; there have been many scares along this journey. Over ten years ago, my mom started to change the food that was coming into our home and started encouraging family members to walk and run outside. It sounds un-radical, but when I think back to what my brother and I did before the change, I remember a lot of hot pockets, pizza rolls, and endless television watching. The switch from pizza rolls to fruits was certainly not immediate, but having options was a start. This is all to say that I’m thankful for my family’s health, but even more so for the foresight that my mom had to change our behaviors.


I’m thankful for national parks and for family. This may seem like a weird pairing, but for me they are intertwined. Since I was little, my family has planned most of our vacations around national parks. This year was no different, and on two separate family trips I was able to visit Crater Lake National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. Both resulted in moments of awe at the beauty of these places, and a few hilarious memories involving elk, but those are stories for another time. These experiences made me appreciate even more the public lands and open spaces our country has to offer, and the opportunities that my parents continue to provide for their children. 


This year I’m most thankful for good health. A common mantra in my family is that happiness and health are the most valuable things you can have; everything else can be bought. This saying took on special meaning for me this past year when I experienced a setback in my health. Luckily, everything is fine now, but the news really put into perspective what is most important. While Thanksgiving isn’t often correlated to good health—what with the gluttonous feasts and infamous turkey-induced comas—this year I’m grateful that I can enjoy some stuffing and pumpkin pie with family and friends. Maybe the next day I will even opt for a run.


This Thanksgiving I am thankful to be working in a field with such strong, benevolent values. Public health has given me a purpose for life and continually pushes me to be of open heart and mind. Every day I am a witness to the many ways in which public health impacts our lives and I have been so happy to see it receive more and more recognition worldwide. With or without story headlines, public health professionals will continue to work to keep us all healthy and able to enjoy this holiday with our families and friends. 


I am so thankful for this fellowship position that gave me the opportunity to move across the country to work with some amazing people and see beautiful places. The nature in the Bay Area, especially living so close to the Pacific Ocean, reminds me of how vast this world is and makes me very happy! 

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