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Diane Jones
30
Marketing Director
Married
College Area
Interviewed at the Natural History Museum, Balboa Park

I’m grateful that my father — he’s 63 — is healthy and happy. He had an accident last year; he had a flesh-eating bacteria and he lost his arm. It was very twilight zone. I was in London when it happened. They don’t know how it happened. But he’s doing great now. He’s doing everything he used to do, within a year: he’s golfing and fishing. I’m also grateful for my husband and my family. Actually, I’m grateful for my whole family.

Yasmin Sabas
21
Student
Not Married
Escondido
Interviewed at Starbucks in San Marcos

I’m grateful for my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my car. I have a Corolla. It takes me places. I’m thankful for my house. I live with my parents. I’m thankful for my parents’ jobs because they support me completely. I have an older brother who’s in the Navy. He just got back from the war, so that’s great. He’s going to be here for two more months, and then he’s going to go to Bahrain. He volunteered to do that. He’s really changed. He’s more grown-up. He’s nicer.

Alex Cumana
31
Real Estate/Property Manager
Married
South Mission Hills
Interviewed at the Festa in Little Italy

This year I am thankful that my family and I are here today. We were involved in a car crash last weekend on highway 5 going south from Los Angeles. It was late at night, around the San Juan Capistrano area, when a car hit ours. Our car rotated four times on a 360-degree angle at 75 miles per hour. We were hit by one of the two speed racers who lost control of his car. So most definitely I am thankful for the health of my family and mine and that we can enjoy being together today.

Kayleigh
Ninth-Grade Student
Interviewed at Mira Mesa High School

I’m thankful for everything that I have. I’m just, like, the Pilgrim thing. No. Not that.

David Baumgardner
61
Retired
Married
Jamul
Interviewed at Target in Rancho San Diego

Well, I’m 61, and I had polio, but I am still alive. I am thankful for that. I’m not as healthy as I used to be, but I am still ticking. I got the polio when I was 5. That was at the tail end of the big polio epidemic that went from 1935 to 1945. I had it over 100 percent of my body. But through physical therapy and hard work and being browbeaten by my folks and nurses, I got the use of my upper body back. Now I am up and around, and I can still do stuff, and I am very thankful for that. And even though I have some post-polio-syndrome complications, I have a pretty good outlook.

Kathleen Baumgardner
47
Retired
Married
Jamul
Interviewed at Target in Rancho San Diego

I am thankful for family, good health, and great friends. I have three children, and I have two grandchildren. And all of my children are healthy and doing well. They are scattered all over the place — Hawaii and Colorado. I have lived in both spots. In fact, I have lived all over the world, which is another thing I am thankful for. I have lived in Europe, I have lived in Hawaii, and I have lived all over the United States. I have a sister who lived in Israel, I have a sister who lives in Thailand, and I’ve visited those places. I am very thankful to have done so much traveling and seen so many different places in my life.

Frank Pswatai
11
Student
Spring Valley
Interviewed at North County Fair

I’m thankful for having a good life and having fun in San Diego. I like to play with my friends and go to the mall with my brother and have fun. I like looking at people shop and looking at new stuff. I like to look at new video games.

Paul Fisher
22
Lance Corporal (E3)
Interviewed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

Thankful for having two caring parents, both still together. Thankful that most of my brothers who I went overseas with have come home. Just thankful to be alive.

Josefina Rivera
21
Hostess
Not Married
Valencia Park
Interviewed at El Torito Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo

I’m thankful that I have a good job. If I have a job, I can support my daughter. I can buy things for her. My daughter is a year and a half. I live with my sister, and her house is far away from my job. My goal is to be living alone in an apartment. I know that if I keep this job, I can get my own place and buy things for my daughter.

Anne Silva
42
Communications Manager
Single
Ocean Beach
Interviewed at UCSD

I’m really grateful this year for some of the things I didn’t get. An escrow fell through on an expensive condo — I’m going back to school instead with that dough. My friend/surrogate mom/muse Helena, 75, died after a painful illness. I’m grateful for the time I was honored with her friendship and that I now have a really cool angel watching over me. I’m grateful for all the bad dates I’ve been on this year (and there have been many) — it’s helping me clarify what I want and realize I can do with or without the relationship thing. I’m grateful for divine intervention when I held on to things I realized later I really didn’t need. I’m grateful for my really cool playwriting class at UCSD! Most of all, I’m grateful I can still be silly, hopeful, and not afraid of jumping off a cliff every once in a while and being given the wings to fly if only I try.

Peter Parmenter
38
Internal Auditor
Single
Golden Triangle
Interviewed in Hillcrest

I’m grateful for friends, family, health, and the fact that Arnold can’t get legally elected president. I think the election was a sham, and I think he has the potential to create more havoc than help for the state. However, I did make sure that Austrian folk music was available in the office on October 8. I’m also grateful for my motorcycle, my matching helmet, and my new apartment.

Victoria Lazos
35
Optometry Dispenser
Single
National City
Interviewed at Horton Plaza

Health, family…but life is hard…my father died this year, a neighbor around the corner died. I’m a single parent with a soon-to-be 18-year-old. Drugs have affected my life…I wish things weren’t so hard…I just hate drugs; they’ve affected my son so horribly. You see? It makes me cry. I definitely wish for better times.

Jason Ball
24
Offensive Lineman for the Chargers
Single
Mission Valley
Interviewed at Viejas Outlet Center

Well, I am thankful for good health and for my family and friends. And I am thankful for the well-being of the nation’s troops and thankful for the effort that the troops put forward overseas. That is something we should all be thankful for.

Mike Mannion
32
Project Manager
Married
Rancho Bernardo
Interviewed in Rancho Bernardo

What am I grateful for? My cell phone! Man oh man, do I love cell phones! They’re the best — they are a great way to catch up with an old friend during a meal in a restaurant. Plus, I can drive while I eat, smoke, and chat! And I never have to know where I’m going, since I can just call ahead and have the person guide me to the location, street by street. Plus, mine is all silvery and metal. It looks real impressive. And the ring is so loud that everyone can hear it within 500 feet. Love that phone!

Macaria Avalos
26
Banquet Server
Single
Pacific Beach
Interviewed at the Natural History Museum, Balboa Park

I had the realization that current events, what’s going on in Iraq — the nation that we live in, the taxes that we have for so many things — I realized all the benefits we have living here in the United States, being an American. We are such a wealthy nation; people don’t realize that. From my travels around the world, I’ve seen how much we have, and people take it for granted. Even those whose parents immigrated here, their children don’t realize. I’m grateful for my health; I have all of my limbs, I’m able to go to the gym, I’m able to run. Those who’ve been in serious accidents, they realize how much they took those things for granted.

Jamie Pollard
33
Merchandiser
Single
National City
Interviewed at Horton Plaza

I’m grateful for my family. My freedom. My family’s not as big as it used to be, so the little bit of family left that I do have, I’m still thankful for. For the most part, they’re local, and I get to see them as often as I like to. As for freedom: with everything that’s been going on, with the war…and troops still dying overseas — and they said the war was over — it makes a difference to know that someone’s still fighting…it may not necessarily be freedom that they’re fighting for, but, you know, it makes you think…

Ariel Ramos
40
Lifestyle Entrepreneur
Single
Oceanside
Interviewed in La Jolla

I’ve gone through so much this past year, lots of personal challenges, and that’s one of the reasons why I opened up my own espresso kiosk, why I made something totally different out of my career. I’m grateful because I’m meeting a lot of new people, enjoying what I’m doing; I have much less stress, and business is doing well. I have no regrets about the change. I’m thankful for all my friends and family, who’ve been very supportive.

Daya Knyht
(M. Raymond Villamor)
“Between 20 and Death”
Drag Queen
Downtown
Interviewed at the Natural History Museum, Balboa Park

I’m happy that I live in a city where I have a job where I can do this [dress in drag] at a fabulous function party. I’m grateful for San Diego: I get to do what I want, support myself doing what I want. I have a fabulous husband, I’m moving into a fabulous place, and it’s a fabulous life. What more could a girl want? Diamonds, honey, diamonds.

Patricia Ortega
38
Sandwich Maker
Single
City Heights
Interviewed at Subway in Rancho San Diego

I am thankful for being clean and sober today. I am a recovering addict, and I’ve been sober almost ten months. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol for years. But today I am clean, and it feels awesome, just great. Life is wonderful today, and I can feel that God is working in my life. Overcoming my addiction was the biggest struggle of my life, and now I feel a lot of freedom. Life is getting better every day.

Anita Anton
71
Retired
Widowed
Alpine
Interviewed at the Souplantation in Rancho Bernardo

First of all, I would say that I’m thankful for my son. He’s the most important thing in my life. And his wife. And my dear friends that I have. We always get together at Thanksgiving; I’m never alone. For that I’m very thankful. Even though I’m far away from where I originated. I started out in New York. I’ve been out here for 22 years. That’s a long time. So I have all my friends here, now. I’m very content. Thank God. I just came back from the doctor, and my health is pretty good yet. I’m pretty active. I like to get around. I’m thankful for the fact that I can get around. I see other people who can’t get around, and they’re dependent on others. I’m not. And if I have a need, my friends are right there for me. So I’m thankful for all these things and for God giving me all these things.

Nick Ingrande
28
Teacher
Engaged
Spring Valley
Interviewed at the Festa in Little Italy

I am thankful that I found the girl of my dreams, even though the night I got engaged to her everything went wrong. First, my credit cards were maxed, so I had to use my debit card. I started out the evening by taking her on a gondola ride in Coronado. My girlfriend felt really uncomfortable and could not get into the romantic mood, because, as she put it, “He is staring at us.” When I went to pay for the gondola ride, I found out that I had lost my debit card. So I attempted to give them my maxed-out credit card, and thankfully it went through. Later I took her to dinner, and I had to confess to my girlfriend that I might not have enough credit on my card for dinner and if she could lend me her card… But as luck would have it, again the card went through. I planned to propose to her during a romantic walk, but she did not want to go for a walk; she said it was too cold. I wanted to offer my jacket for the walk, but the ring was inside the pocket of my jacket. Again, luck intervened. She needed to go to the bathroom, and I took my chance to get the ring from the jacket, and when she returned, I offered it to her so I could go on with my plan. We went for the walk, I sat her down on the bench and asked, and without a hitch…she said yes!

Isabel Burley
41
Elder-Care Worker
Single
El Cajon
Interviewed at Ralphs in El Cajon

I am thankful for the war in Iraq going so well and having our troops come back. I don’t have any family or friends involved in the war, but as an American, I am very thankful that it went well. We all should be. And we should all be thankful to live here, after seeing so much about how people in other parts of the world live. I’m also thankful that I have my health and I have a job — I’m working and I’m making it. I am thankful that the economy looks like it’s doing better — unemployment is going down, and there are more opportunities out there. Things are looking a little bit better for everybody.

Blaire Harrington
26
Quality Lab Technician
Single
Pacific Beach
Interviewed at UCSD

Coming from Utah, I’m thankful for how liberal San Diego is. I appreciate the large amount of beautiful gay ladies (haven’t seen a mullet in a year!). Despite the hard times (playing straight in the workplace, dealing with a coworker who thought I was stealing her boyfriend, or men with power issues), I still have a good story to tell. I’m really grateful that my best friend, my brother, is in L.A., so I see him often! That San Diego is diverse and open. I can hang out with just the girls or bring out all my friends anywhere and we are safe. It’s never boring, and though it took a while, I am fortunate to have found colorful friends and loving family.

Megan Schwarzbach
28
Administrator
Single
Hillcrest
Interviewed in Hillcrest

I find that the unremarkable and seemingly insignificant matters of everyday life are what I am thankful for most this year. One such instance is when my cat greets me at the door at the end of the day. He may bite and claw at my appendages for the other 80 percent of the time we spend together; but for those first fleeting five minutes, it seems like he is genuinely happy to see me. Other things I am grateful for are the ludicrous plotlines on Days of Our Lives, living near a 24-hour taco stand, and the latest issue of US Weekly arriving in the mail.

Nicole Braa
29
Housepainter
Divorced
Interviewed at Fashion Valley

I’m thankful for my daughter Zoe. And for having all the wisdom that being 29 brings to you, because it’s a lot more than when I was 21.

Reno Harnish
Interviewed at Fashion Valley

My baby here. That’s all I’m thankful for. I’m excited about going to Raleigh, North Carolina, with my baby here. That’s where I usually go for Thanksgiving. My family is there. But it’s always a damn riot act because there’s too much wine early in the day. They start throwing pumpkin pie by around 4:00 p.m. Tears begin probably around 7:00.

Joseph Helms
21
Corporal
Interviewed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

One, I got back from Iraq all right. Two, I have a wonderful, beautiful fiancée. Health, of course. I’m thankful for being in the Marines. I have many different opportunities once I decide to get out. I can diversify in so many different ways. I’m thankful for a lot of things.

Jean Schmiedel
70
Retired
Divorced
Lakeside
Interviewed at Los Coches Vons

I am thankful to be alive and healthy at my age. I am 70, and I have had some difficulties with my health, but I am overcoming them, and I am really thankful for that. I am thankful to have the finances to feed myself and live relatively comfortably. And I am very thankful to have people who care about me. That is very important to me. It is comforting to know that I have people that care about me.

David Baginski
28
Salesclerk
Not Married
Oceanside
Interviewed at Galaxy of Costumes in Vista

I’m thankful that I’m still alive, that I haven’t died prematurely, that I’m doing well. I have a good job, a place to live, and clothes on my back. And that I have good friends who have helped me when I’ve been down and are happy for me when I do well. Things get tough, and it’s not always easy. But you’ve got to have hope for the future that things are going to get better. That’s the most important thing: to be thankful when things do work out and things do get better. Everybody has spells where things don’t go well. I just think some people take it harder than others. I’m probably one of those people. If you have enough bad things in a row, it’s easy to get discouraged. I have a way of tricking my mind into thinking things are going to be like that permanently. That’s not the case.

Kellen Churchill
Tenth-Grade Student
Interviewed at Mira Mesa High School

I’m thankful for friends. Mostly just my friends.

Sister Sheila Collins
Age not for publication
Pastoral Assistant
San Marcos
Interviewed at St. Mark’s Church

“Gratitude is the fairest flower that blossoms in the soul.” I don’t remember who first said this, but it is a kind of creed for me. Life is the greatest gift we have, and I cherish every moment. I am grateful for the gift of life given to me by my parents and the values they taught me which have helped me be a good citizen of the world and a faithful member of my church. I am grateful for God’s call and the strength He has given me to be faithful to that call for 50 years. This weekend I will celebrate 50 years of ministry among the people of California. From my childhood, I was taught to build bridges, not walls, and so friendship is a very special value for me. I have made marvelous friends who have walked with me and encouraged me. For these I am very grateful and give thanks every day.

David Barclay
25
Laborer
Not Married
Oceanside
Interviewed outside Bub’s Whiskey Dive in Oceanside

What am I thankful for? I guess for my health, my family. I’m thankful for the friends that I’ve met out here. I’m from Iowa. Music brought me here. I’ve had a lot of really rough times. Every last thing that I own has been stolen. I trust people too easily. I’ll leave my stuff with someone for 10, 15 minutes. I come back, and they’re gone and my stuff is gone. That includes two guitars, clothes, money, ID, Social Security card. As of right now, I’m couch surfing with some of my friends. I really don’t have a place to live. But I’m working. I’m alive. I guess that’s the best thing to be thankful for.

Will Maxwell
22
Military
Married
Oceanside
Interviewed in Downtown Oceanside

I’m grateful for being home. I was in Iraq from January to July. I did nothing. I’m a radio operator for the First Combat Engineer Battalion. I provide communications for the battalion. What I saw when I was over there was sand. That’s about it. I’m thankful for my wife. I’ve been married for a while.

Danny Quach
18
Clerk
Not Married
Rancho Peñasquitos
Interviewed at Party City in Carmel Mountain Ranch

I’m thankful for my family because they give me a lot of stuff. They give me encouragement and money. They give me food. I’m thankful for my car. I’ve got a 2002 Civic Si. I lowered it, and I want to do more stuff to it. I’m going to get a cooler intake and some nice rims. I’m thankful for my health. I’m pretty healthy. I’m thankful for the money I make at my job.

Margaret Jensen
80
Retired
Widow
La MesaInterviewed at Vons in Fletcher Hills

Well, I just lost my husband, and I could not say I was thankful for that. But I am thankful for living in Southern California, for one thing. I came from Omaha, Nebraska, and I do not like the snow. It was all right when I was a kid. We had ice-skating and sleigh riding and tobogganing and all of that good stuff. But when you get older, you do not do any of that stuff, and the cold and snow make life difficult. So I like it out here. My daughter wants me to move up to Santa Cruz, but I have been up there many times, and every time I’m there, it is foggy and rainy all the time. I am so thankful to be here in Southern California. This is God’s country.

Scott Rockwal
41
Unemployed Computer Technician
Single
El Cajon
Interviewed at Ross in Santee

Well, I don’t have a job, and I don’t have a car, and I don’t have a life. But I try to keep my head up, and I am thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the good people in the world. And I am thankful for the gifts that God has given all of us: the sun, the trees, the forest, the ocean, the breeze. The basics. I think that’s what really matters anyway. Too many people are into the almighty dollar instead of thinking about what is really good for them and good for other people. But some people are still focused on what they can do for other people, and I am very thankful for that. Family, friends, and helping people is where my quality of life has always come from.

Chris Mancini
20
Student
Not Married
Escondido
Interviewed outside Albertsons in San Marcos

I’m grateful there are still unions around. I’m a history major, and I read a lot about unions back in the early ’40s, and they’re still around. People still get to go on strike and still get to keep their benefits. Most jobs don’t get that. I hear a lot of people saying they’re ungrateful for what they have. Their quality of life is higher than a lot of people. I’m grateful that they still get to work to keep that. I worked at the Escondido Albertsons. I was a courtesy clerk. I studied at Cal State San Marcos for a year. Now I’m at Palomar, and I’m going to hopefully transfer to San Francisco State.

Mike
25
Marine
Interviewed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

I’m just thankful that I’m able to serve my country.

Lorenzo Zaino
81
Retired Pathologist
Married
Coronado
Interviewed in Coronado

I am thankful for a year of good mental and physical health; at 81 years of age, one or the other may fail. I am grateful that my wife and I are still physically strong, even though we are elderly, and are able to travel each year to different parts of the world, to Italy, where we visit the hometown of my parents and stay with distant relatives. We are still active with our community. I am still able to play golf three times a week and still pull my own golf cart. I am thankful for my wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that surround me. I am thankful to my parents for passing on those great genes. But mostly, I am thankful that I have been trying to show off my age since I was 75, but I haven’t succeeded yet!

Angel Hendrie
32
Firefighter
Married
Jamul
Interviewed at Albertsons in Rancho San Diego

I am thankful that I have a brand-new niece. She was very unexpected. My brother, her father, is not married, but my parents took him and his girlfriend in — no questions asked — to help them with the baby. They are going to get married next year. So soon I will have a new sister-in-law, and right now I have a baby niece, and she is a blessing. And it is something even more special that she was unexpected and unplanned. She’s a wonderful surprise addition to our family. Plus, she is my only niece here. All of my other nieces and nephews are out of state.

Vikram Aggarwal
21
Import/Export
Single
Carmel Mountain Ranch
Interviewed at the Festa in Little Italy

This year I took a trip to the United Arab Emirates and visited Dubai. While I was there, two things happened to me. First, I was given a great opportunity to start an import/export business selling clothing and giftware from that region. The other was an important lesson, which I am happy that I learned early on in my life. That is, the truth of life. That whatever you give of yourself — such as your time, your money, love, generosity — it won’t be in vain; it will be returned to you when you need it the most.

Dana Kohlmeyer
30
Nanny
Married
Oceanside
Interviewed at Discovery Lake in San Marcos

I’m thankful for good health. I had a scare with cervical cancer, but I’m all good now. I’m thankful for my family and my friends, my family especially. I have a very close-knit family. I have three sisters and a brother and an aunt. They live mostly in the Van Nuys area, but we’re very, very close. It’s the best thing ever. I’m grateful that my husband’s home safe. My husband’s a Marine. He’s been in the service ten years. I have friends whose husbands had to go over to Iraq. I’m a lucky wife who didn’t have to go through that. My husband was really grateful that he didn’t have to go over. I’m grateful that all the Marines I know came home safely.

Golden DePesa
24
Pro Surfer
Married to Denise
Oceanside
Interviewed at the Oceanside Skatepark

I’m thankful for this skate park. It’s pretty cool. I’m thankful for them keeping it going on for as long as they have and keeping it maintained. It’s been here for about a year. Lately I’ve been coming here a couple times a week. When the waves are flat, I come here to skate. I’m thankful for the waves and the ocean. I’ve surfed in the WQS, world qualifying tour. I’ll be going to Hawaii in a couple weeks to compete out there. I’m going down to Mexico next week too. I’m thankful to be able to do what I do and live the life that I live. I’m thankful for my sponsors: WRV, the Boardroom, and Stay Covered. I’m thankful for my family and getting married. I’ve been married for a couple weeks.

Shawn
26
YMCA Employee
Interviewed at Oktoberfest in Ocean Beach

I’m thankful I have a lovely girlfriend that takes care of me. I’m thankful my family is healthy. Thankful I have a roof to live under.

Lucy Ryland
7
Student
San Marcos
Interviewed at home

I’m thankful for my family. For all the gifts that God gave us: our souls and our house and our clothes and our beds and our shoes and our pets. I have a new pet. It’s a hamster, and its name is Button. He’s a dwarf hamster. I’m thankful for Button. I’m thankful for our world and for my parents and for all the people and for my school and for my brothers and sisters and for all the saints.

Charlie Riche
43
Machinist
Married
Santee
Interviewed at Office Depot in Santee

I am thankful for my family and for my friends. I’m a married man. I have a son who turned five in October; he just started kindergarten this year. He is wonderful. I wish I could be thankful about our economy in California right now. But I am working, and I am thankful to be working, because this would be a bad time to not have a job because work is hard to find right now. A year and a half ago, I was working out in Lakeside, and jobs were plentiful. One day I got laid off, and the next thing you know, I am looking for a job again. The difference between then and now is, you would see five or six jobs in the paper then; now you see none in my field. So I am thankful to have work and thankful for health and family.

Gabriella Vitale
47
Supermarket Checker
Married
El Cajon
Interviewed at the Festa in Little Italy

I am so blessed to have a great family, not just mine, but also my extended family. My mother passed this year after a long illness, but my dad is still alive and doing well. I come from a family of five sisters; two of them are twins, and I am one of them. I am really thankful for my husband that I adore and my two great kids. My husband just won a nice trip for two in Hawaii. He won it at a raffle. The great part of the trip is that he will be able to play unlimited golf. And that is great because he loves golf. Now we are going on a cruise with my family, my sister’s family, my father is going… I just thank God that everyone is healthy.

Brooke Carlson
27
Web Designer
Married
Hillcrest
Interviewed at Trader Joe’s in Hillcrest

I’d have to say I’m grateful for my health and the health of my family and friends. Lately I’ve been reminded of the transience of things like life and happiness and health. And I gotta say that I’m grateful to be alive and happy and healthy and that most of the people in my life are happy and healthy. Beyond that, I’m grateful for the sun,and yoga and my new husband — the everyday things — my pets, my neighbor, my garden, my close friends, my favorite taco, my Tivo, my feet, peace.

Charles Bryant
73
Retired
Married
Rural East County
Interviewed at Costco in Santee

I am thankful that certain people in the state of California are becoming aware of the way that we are being robbed by the government. I’m thankful that we’re attempting to recall the governor, because I feel that he hasn’t done what’s right. I have a daughter in state college, and they just increased all the fees — I mean all the fees. It’s one thing if you make $150,000 a year. But if you’re making $50,000, you pay hell sending a child to college. I live in a house right now; it’s worth $500,000 or $600,000. But I bought it 20 years ago. If I had to buy it today, I could not buy it. Gas has become very expensive too. I’m very grateful that we’re trying to put an end to all the bullshit and do what is right.

Annette
Waterhouse
41
Special Education Teacher
Married
Rancho San Diego
Interviewed at Home Depot in Santee

I would say I am thankful my family — just the fact that we are all healthy and we’re all together. My husband and my two children and my siblings and their children, we are all here together. And we are all healthy. I am a special education teacher, and I see the other side all the time — the kids in the wheelchairs and the kids who cannot do anything by themselves. It makes me realize that my family has been very blessed to be all nice and healthy. And I am thankful for that.

Lee Quintos
Age not for publication
Rancher
Married
Lake San Marcos
Interviewed at the Oceanside Farmer’s Market

I’m thankful for the sun in the morning and the moon at night. I’m thankful for our gift for growing wonderful fruits and flowers. We grow about 400 varieties of fruit, flowers, and herbs and vegetables at our farm in Fallbrook. My husband Gilbert’s brother and sister work with us. It’s all in the family.

Rian Walker
44
Adult Magazine
Distributor
Single
Oceanside
Interviewed at the Target Shopping Center in Vista

I’m thankful for my health, my fiancée, my new business, new home, and being engaged. I’m grateful for life in general. I met my fiancée a little over two years ago. She worked at a local tavern that I frequented. We got to know each other, and we started dating about a year ago. We hit it off really well. We’re getting married early next year. I just bought a new house in Oceanside, and I took over this magazine-distribution business. So things are going well.

Annabelle Lee
25
Real Estate
Single
Del Mar
Interviewed in Rancho San Diego

This year I am thankful that I was able to get out of a dead-end relationship. I had been going out with this guy for a few years, and it was not going anywhere. It took a lot of guts to end it because there was a lot of history between us, but I had to put myself first. I guess I am thankful that I was strong enough to get through the initial three months of heartache and not just do the easy thing and return to the relationship. As a result of the breakup, I have been blessed: I have reacquainted myself with old friends, I went to Japan, and I was also able to buy myself a Tag Heuer watch that I have always wanted.

Rich Toscano
32
Computer Professional
Married
Hillcrest
Interviewed at Trader Joe’s in Hillcrest

I would say that I am most grateful that I get to live in a country that is prosperous, peaceful, and respectful of individual rights. I would say that, but the truth is that I am really most grateful for beer. I mean, there are some good beverages out there, but none are as delicious as beer, and none are as refreshing, and none can so readily satisfy my thirst while anesthetizing me against the burdensome, crushing emptiness of my existence. I’m also really grateful for kittens, puppies, and rainbows. Oh yeah, and bourbon.

Gail Saivar
56
Advertising Agent
Single
Point Loma
Interviewed at UCSD

I am, at last, grateful to be who I am. I’m grateful to Kaiser Permanente, to my counselor and my yoga teacher, who both put me on the right path, to old friends who stuck with me through some very hard times, and to new friends who I’m sure will help me through more. My lifelines to love and laughter: my sister and my son. My ex-husband, for being the best father in the world, and his wife and family, for loving my son almost as much as we do. And lastly, I’d like to thank the Academy…

Tommy Boy
23
Body Piercer
Interviewed in Mission Beach

I’m thankful for my job. And I’m thankful that my old lady just left me to go back home. Because I got a new lady in my life now. I love it.

Henry Martinez
37
Landscaping Business Owner
Single
Temecula
Interviewed at the Vista Courthouse

I’m thankful for my health, my family, my friends, and this great place where we live. I’m close to my family, and I have a great group of friends. We all look out for each other — the what-goes-around-comes-around system. So I definitely enjoy that. My business is going well. I’m thankful for the clients that we have. I think business could be a little better given the current situation, the economic fiasco in Sacramento. As a landscaping business, the workman’s comp situation really affects us deeply. The insurance rates affect us. But we’ve got to make the best of it and be thankful for what we do have.

Chaz Rhinehart
34
Chiropractor
Married
Valley Center
Interviewed at Crossroads Holistic Health Center in Valley Center

What am I thankful for? I would probably have to say love, light, and energy. The love that I’m able to connect with with others. Being able to experience another person’s heart space. The light in my life being the way that God moves in my life and shines in my life. And the energy of the flow and the rhythm of my life. The way that everything is dynamically choreographed.

Lorie Whitehead
31
Chiropractor’s Assistant
Single
Valley Center
Interviewed at Crossroads Holistic Health Center in Valley Center

I am grateful for my son Grant, my family and friends, the love we all share. I am thankful for this beautiful world we live in and all the colors that brighten every day. Dr. Chaz brightens up my day, and I learn a lot from him. There’s a lot to learn here at Crossroads. Besides work, I’m learning about different religions. I’m learning about the appreciation for God and values for our family.

Julie Stevens
36
Mom
Married
Murrieta
Interviewed at Bell Gardens in Valley Center

I’m definitely thankful for my family and the fact that we live here in America. We have the freedom that a lot of people in other countries don’t have. We can do what we want. Moms don’t have to work. Our families get good education and food and housing and everything we need.

Marylee Ruehle
28
Mom
Married
Rancho Bernardo
Interviewed at the Borders Books in Carmel Mountain Ranch

I’m thankful for my children. I’m thankful to be an American. I’m thankful for my church, St. John of Damascus Orthodox Church. It’s a very nice family church. There are so many people there who are very loving. The Orthodox Church is as old as the Catholic Church. They were one church until they broke apart about 1000 years ago. I love the historical aspect. It’s an Eastern rite church. There are a lot of Orthodox churches in San Diego. We go to the one that’s closest to our house.

Ryan Barker
42
Air Traffic Controller
Married
Santee
Interviewed at Home Depot in Santee

Well, I have to be thankful for my kids. They are a joy to be around. I have two girls. One just started junior high school and my other one is in third grade. They are both doing well in school, and I have to be thankful for that. I am very thankful to have my wife and thankful that we’ve been married for 17 years and she is doing well and doing a great job taking care of our kids. Also, my brother is here visiting, and I am thankful that he is going to help me with my yardwork and getting my yard straightened up.

Laurie Harveston
64
Retired
Divorced
El Cajon
Interviewed at Henry’s in El Cajon

I am thankful that my children and my grandchildren are all healthy and happy and they all have homes. They all have jobs, they all have homes, and that is a lot. I have four kids and four grandkids. All my kids are working, which is great these days, because so many people are not working and it is a tough market for finding jobs. And all my kids are nearby. I could not be more thankful for that.

Bri Cave
21
Housewife
Married
El Cajon
Interviewed in Downtown El Cajon

I am just thankful that God has blessed us with just enough money for my husband and I to get by. It is not a lot, but it is enough, and I am just thankful for that. Another thing I thank God for is the fact that my husband was not sent to the war. Also, we are getting ready to move, and we are thankful that everything is going smoothly with that. It’s been a really good year. And even though it is hard to have a husband in the Navy, I think we have a lot of stuff to be thankful for.

Josh Cave
19
Navy
Married
El Cajon
Interviewed in Downtown El Cajon

Mostly I am thankful for my wife. She is wonderful, and I am very thankful to have her. I’m thankful to be going home to Texas soon. We are going to be there for three weeks or so before I ship out to Florida. I am looking forward to being home for a little while. And I am thankful that a stranger just walked up to us and gave us this little kitten. She said she had to get rid of it because she was moving and asked us if we could give it a home, which we are happy to do. I hope the cat we already have is happy about it.

Kai Salmond
20
Bakery Worker
Single
El Cajon
Interviewed at Vons in Fletcher Hills

I am thankful for my God. I am thankful that He is a God who gives second chances. I mean, I am on about my fifth chance, and I am very thankful to have a God who continues to love me and give me His grace and understanding. I am thankful that His love for me is always there. I am also thankful that I have a very loving family. No matter what I do, they are always there, unconditionally.

Donna Scheffler
54
Retired Nurse
Divorced
Lakeside
Interviewed at Party City in Rancho San Diego

Well, first, I am thankful to have a great family and good friends. I have a niece who is a teacher, and I volunteer and help her every day in the classroom, and it is a joy. I have seen her from a baby all the way up to an adult. She has her own child, and it is so neat to see her participate with a child like I did with her when she was young. Unfortunately, I did not have any children of my own. But now I am kind of a mother to all the kids at the school. I have 1000 students, and they all call me Aunt Donna, which I think is fantastic. I go to the grocery store, and they come running up calling, “Aunt Donna!” It is great. I have an awful lot to be thankful for.

Lori Escalera
46
Artist
Married
Vista
Interviewed at the Festa in Little Italy

I am thankful that my 29-year-old husband of five years is back home safe and sound from his deployment in Kuwait. He works with helicopters as maintenance control. While he was out there, he also did some humanitarian work in Baghdad. He will be leaving again next May, so I am just thankful for every moment we have together till then. I am also appreciative that I was able to find my dharma in life; that is, I found something I am good at and found a way to get paid for it. I’m an artist; I teach children and adults all over San Diego County. I am also thankful that my 15-year-old daughter is happy and healthy. I am truly blessed, but it takes a lot of work.

Kelly Nason
24Retail Management
Lives with Boyfriend
La Mesa
Interviewed at Mesa College

I am thankful for moving across the country to California. I had always dreamed of one day living here and escaping the bitter winters of Blaine, Minnesota. Another recent event that I am grateful for is that my male roommate has decided to leave. This is a good thing because he never paid rent on time, would walk around in his underwear, and leave them on the floor for everyone to see. Lastly, I am thankful that I am pursuing my dream of attending college and getting my fashion-merchandising degree.

Stu and Linda Dobbins
53, 49
Semiretired/San Diego Zoo
Married
Lakeside
Interviewed at Old Town Trolley Station

Stu: My mother just had an operation. It was for colon cancer; we’re lucky everything came out great. During the operation they did not find anything. So there was no chemo needed. We are really jazzed about it, especially when you consider she is 82 years old.

Linda: Our son got married last May to the perfect girl, and we can’t wait for them to have babies. I am thankful that I have been married for 19 years; that is pretty good for a couple who live in California. I am grateful that we live in a town like San Diego, where we have great weather, great friends, and I have a nice job at the San Diego Zoo, where I have worked for 25 years.

Dan Whitworth
44
Writer/Editor
Single
Normal Heights
Interviewed at UCSD

Having been through a very chaotic year, I’m grateful to all the things that got me through it — first and foremost, the good friends who stuck by me (or at least put up with me) at my worst. Infinite thanks also to Dr. B and his Tuesday-night gang; my late teacher Carol Suley, for first encouraging me to write; Lori Uptegrove, my first honest critic, who left this world much too soon; the indispensable teachings of the Buddha; and, of course, my mother Jeannine, who (among so many precious other gifts) read to me when I was a child.

Katie Carr
27
Stylist
Single
College Area
Interviewed in Hillcrest

For me, this has been a very big year. I ended a seven-year relationship. I’ve moved twice. I started my own business, and I’m just thankful for the people in my life who have supported me and guided me and helped me when they could have been doing many other things, such as my friends Jeff and Tania, who have twin baby girls; my former boss Tim, who runs a restaurant…I really appreciate my friend Patrick, who’s gone above and beyond, who let me stay at his place, who helped me with my taxes, who has sent me lots of clients and talks me up and has helped make me successful. And my family, especially my sister Becky. At the drop of a hat she’s been by my side; she does whatever I need. She helped me move every time; she packed up my house and practically moved me when I was at work one day. When I was sad she would call me or meet me for dinner. Everyone has their own life and everyone has a million things going on for themselves and everyone has taken the time to help me and be a part of my life and support me, and they’ll never know how much of a difference that has made in my life, no matter how many times I tell them, no matter how much I thank them.

Denise Lane
48
Retired
Married
Fletcher Hills
Interviewed at Vons in Fletcher Hills

I am thankful for my family, my own kids, and my extended family. I come from a very large family, and we are all healthy and we are together and we all get along and we all keep in touch. There are 22 grandkids in the family. I am thankful for our family. I am very thankful.

Tom Fisher
57
Registered Nurse
Married
Santee
Interviewed at Viejas Outlet Center

A lot of things. I’ve got my health and, given my age, I feel very grateful for it. I have had some heart problems, but they are all resolved. I’ve got a beautiful wife who loves me. I’ve got three great kids and six grandchildren. They are 17, 15, 14; then I’ve got a younger set who are just born, 2, and 4 years old. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I love being Grandpa. It is a lot of fun. I taught the boys how to go fishing and go out into nature. That kind of thing is priceless, and it is something that is here for all of us, but we have to enjoy it and stop and remember it and just absorb it.

Robert Campbell
34
Wal-Mart Department Manager
Single
El Cajon
Interviewed at Wal-Mart at College Grove

Honestly, I am thankful to be alive, and I am thankful for my little girl. She turns three this November. Every day you wake up is a reason to be thankful, especially when you have a daughter like my little girl. Her name is Ashlynn. She is a good girl, and I love spending time with her. Also, I have a job, and that is another thing to be thankful for. There are a lot of people who are out of work these days.

Dianna Baron Irvine
59
Store Owner, Nana’s Cottage
Married
Murrieta
Interviewed at Nana’s Cottage, North County Fair

I’m thankful for my family, more than anything, and these wonderful girls who work here in my shop. They’re all angels. I’ve had the store for about 11 years. We’ve been everywhere. We just kind of move from location to location. I love where I live. For the most part, if you’ve got your health and you’ve got good people around you, what more could you ask for? I have five children, who range in age from 40 to 28. And ten grandchildren. They’re truly a blessing too.

April Fernandez
20
Sales Clerk, Jewelry
Not Married
Escondido
Interviewed at Nordstrom, North County Fair

I’m grateful that I was born in the United States. Everything is good in my life. I can go to school and have a job here at Nordstrom. I had been in fashion-jewelry sales at another store before I got this job. I’m going to Palomar College studying to be a medical assistant. I’m thankful for my family, my friends, everything I have.

John Crowe
32
Auto Sales
Not Married
Escondido
Interviewed at GMC dealership on the Escondido Auto Circle

I’m grateful for the incredible weather that we have here. The wideness of the streets. If you go to Europe, the streets are small and tiny and little, and you can’t get by anywhere. The humongous size of the cars. The incredible opportunity we have in the unbelievable city that we live in that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. We take it all for granted. Everyone must travel and go see what it’s like elsewhere. Then, when they come back here, they go, “Ahhhh.” I lived in Greece for a long time, which is very nice. But the standard of living is very different. I’ve been many places: France, Japan, all through Europe, the Far East, the Middle East. It’s amazing here, and you don’t know how amazing it is until you leave and come back. I’m grateful for the incredible availability of foods that we have here. The supermarkets are stocked beyond belief. They wouldn’t believe it in other countries if they came here. The availability of anything we want. Anything you could ever ask for is here. In other countries, you have to send away for a tennis racquet, if you will. Anything you want you can have in this nation.

Keith Coleman
22
Oktoberfest Worker/Student
Clairemont
Interviewed at Oktoberfest in Ocean Beach

I’m thankful that we can have events like this for kids. Nice get-togethers where kids can enjoy themselves and it’s safe. They don’t have to see all the pain that’s going on in the world. I’m thankful for my family, which is always there for me. My friends. And that there’s a God.

Diane Ray
53
Cashier, Goodwill
Industries
Not Married
Escondido

Interviewed at the Goodwill Store in Vista

I’m thankful that I have a God in my life today. I’m thankful that I’m clean and sober. And I’m thankful that I have a job. I’ve been clean and sober four years as of the 29th of September. I think that’s awesome. I went through Serenity House, over in Escondido, and it was either go to jail or get clean. And I’ve remained clean ever since. I’m pretty proud of myself.

Debbie Lucus
47
Registered Nurse
Single
El Cajon
Interviewed at Los Coches Wal-Mart

Well, I am very thankful for my health, my family, my friends. I am in good health, and my brother, my mom and my dad, my uncles, and aunts are all well and they are all nearby. It is nice for me to have them close. I am very thankful for them.

Fred McNeil
47
Drywall Business Owner
Divorced
El Cajon
Interviewed at Los Coches Wal-Mart

I am thankful to have work. I have been trying to start up a new drywall business, and it’s been slow the last couple years. But this year, things are going a lot better. It is starting to pick up real good. It is going to be a better Christmas this year. I went through a divorce. She got the house, I got the kids. So I am raising them on my own and starting a new business. It is pretty scary, but it is starting to do better. I did it all on my own too.

Kathy Welsh
52
Customer Service
Single
La Mesa
Interviewed at Grossmont Center Target

I am thankful that I have work. So many people are out of work and think they can’t get work. But I’ve got two jobs. I am doubly employed. I think that is something to be thankful for, because if I did not have the second one, I would not be able to live here in San Diego. So I really am thankful for that. I am thankful for my health; I am thankful that I can work. That’s pretty much it.

Mary Anderson
51
Hairstylist
Married
Clairemont
Interviewed at Clairemont Square

I am thankful because recently, my family has had some turmoil with our son’s new wife and miscommunication. I was at a total loss for how to proceed when, out of the blue, we received a letter from a Catholic charity that included an inexpensive medal of the Blessed Mother. It seemed like a sign to me. I sent a modest donation and wore the medal to a family gathering that evening. Each time, before I spoke, I tried to imagine how Our Blessed Mother would respond. The evening ended on a positive note. Blessings can come in many ways. Some from the U.S. Postal Service.

Carol Elliott
43
Marriage and Family Therapist
Single
San Carlos
Interviewed at Viejas Outlet Center

Well, I am thankful that the people of the United States are being more aware of our soldiers and the people over in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. People are much more aware of what is going on and pressing the government to take care of our people over there. For a while there seemed to be a lot of people saying we need to get out and things like that. But I am glad that people are more supportive of the troops than the government is at times. I have family that is involved in the war, and my brother was involved in the last war with Iraq. I am very thankful for their efforts and for the support people are giving them.

Sean Judd
Early 20s
Nurse
Interviewed at Oktoberfest in Ocean Beach

I’m thankful for God, all of my homies. My friends, cousins, and life in general. The world. My mom. Brothers. I’m thankful, really, that every day we wake up and see our lives, you know?

Francesca
Cavallaro
Married
Interviewed at Fashion Valley

I’m thankful that I have my husband and my family. And for beautiful days here in California.

Mike Smith
23
Security Analyst at Sharp HealthCare
Mission Beach
Interviewed in Mission Beach

I’m thankful for the fact that I have a good job. Plenty of good friends. I live in a great area, right down the road. Great family. I just moved out here from Connecticut. I’ve been here a year and have been lucky and successful out here so far. Things are going my way, so I’m thankful for that. My Thanksgivings were nice back home with family, and they will continue to be nice out here with friends.

Bling Bling
30
Actor
Pacific Beach
Interviewed outside Saska’s in Mission Beach

I am thankful for the gift of life and living. There’s so much, I can’t even begin to tell you all the things I’m thankful for.

Suzie Points
20
South Mission Beach
Interviewed in Mission Beach

I’m thankful for going home. I’m going home to Portland, Oregon. I live in South Mission Beach now. I’m thankful I live here and not in Oregon anymore. I’m thankful the weather is nice and it doesn’t rain every day. And thankful for all the beautiful guys. It’s such a beautiful place here. Back home was nice to have family and everything, especially on Thanksgiving, with a big gathering. But I’m so happy and thankful to be here now.

Jeremy Bertrand
23
Tattoo Artist
Married
Interviewed in Mission Beach

I’m thankful for my family and the business opportunity that came in front of me. That’s about it. I’ll own this place in about a month. Thanksgivings for me used to be in Washington State. I’m so thankful that I got to move out of there and come here and enjoy the sunshine. The weather there sucks.

Maria Salitrero
22
Laundromat Employee/Student
Single
Mission Beach
Interviewed at Laundromat in Mission Beach

I’m thankful that I have such good friends, ’cause it’s been a tough year and they helped me through it a lot. And my family, of course. But they live up north.

Alex Mashir
22
Server at Denny’s
Single
Interviewed at Denny’s in Mission Valley

I’m originally from Hamburg, Germany. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over there. I’ve been here six years, and a lot of my family is out here too. I’m thankful for everything I’ve got. Thankful I’m in this country. Thankful I have a family I can celebrate with.

Ryan
23
Valet
Pacific Beach
Interviewed at Saska’s in Mission Beach

I’m thankful for my family. My friends. I’m thankful that I live in a great place like San Diego, with great weather.

Gia
23
Stripper
Poway
Interviewed in Clairemont

I’m thankful that we only have one more year of George Bush.

Jessie
18
Bouncer at Strip Club
Interviewed in Clairemont

I’m thankful I have a lot of friends right now. They’ve been helping me out. We’ve had some good times.

Tiffany
Receptionist
Interviewed at Fashion Valley

Just for being alive.

Trish Fogle
Student at Court Reporting Institute
Married
Interviewed at Fashion Valley

I’m thankful for my life. And that I’m almost out of school. I’ve been going to school for almost five years.

Tina Babaie
24
Sav-On Employee
Single
Poway
Interviewed at Sav-On in Clairemont

I thank God for everything that He gave us.

Amy Nelson
22
Veterinarian’s Assistant
Married
Hillcrest
Interviewed at Fashion Valley

I’m thankful that George Bush is our president.

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