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A time of giving thanks: Your Thanksgiving stories

Jennifer Gianino

A group of more than 100 Alpha Xi Delta college women at The Workout

During a season of giving thanks, msnbc.com asked you to share your stories of what you're especially grateful for this Thanksgiving. Here's a sampling of some of your responses:

Sorority sisterhood
I'm a proud member of Alpha Xi Delta and thankful for my membership in the organization. I joined Alpha Xi Delta as a college freshman where I was an active member, continued as an active alumnae volunteer and had the distinct opportunity to work for the national organization for six years.

Alpha Xi Delta colony members, volunteers and staff at National Convention 2009

I was a typical college student and enjoyed the leadership development and social aspects of being in a sorority. During that time, I became close friends and confidants to many of my sisters and those friendships continue today. As graduation was approaching, I was hesitant to leave the creature comforts of my sorority sisters as they were my "family." I wasn't sure what to expect as an alumnae member, but quickly began working a as a chapter adviser, which lead to my six-year career for the national organization.


During my time as a staff member working with alumnae volunteers and college members, did I truly begin to realize what Alpha Xi Delta and my sisters mean to me - true amd unconditional friendships, laughter, tears, stories to share with our sisters and daughters and ultimately, love and support from a group of women who share a bond ... a belief that cannot be broken.

Membership in a sorority is more than an oath or songs -- it's about gaining confidence, making lasting friendships, inspiring others, leaving a legacy for others to enjoy, developing intelligent women and to help others who are less fortunate. It's an experience that cannot be taken from me and that I cherish each and every day.
Jennifer Gianino
St. Louis, MO

Aubrey Rae Deno today

Miracle survivor
I'm thankful for this precious little girl. She was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 13 months old. She went through chemo but had a particularly mean type of leukemia which forced her to have a bone marrow transplant.

She had reactions to several different medications which landed her in intensive care, and after the transplant ended up with a liver disease that almost killed her. Her little body swelled up because her liver stopped working and she was on a ventilator for several weeks. She was in the hospital for siz months and it's a miracle that she's still here with us.

She's home with her family. And while she is still on lots of medications and is house-bound for a few more months, she is a happy-go-lucky 2-year old and I'm so thankful for her and what she's taught me about resilience and not taking life for granted. I'm also thankful for the many nurses and doctors who took such great care of her and our family at one of the darkest times.
Tracy Deno
Chicago, IL

Family bond
Earlier this year, I lost my younger brother to suicide. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. I'm thankful for my 2-year-old son, my family and my dear friends. During planning the funeral, my son was a ray of sunshine, and made a difficult task seem almost bearable.

My friends, parents and remaining siblings have all been there, no matter how much I called and cried. To them I will be forever grateful!
Adele Fung
Atlanta, GA

Lucky to be alive
I am a father of three happily married to the love of my life. Before that I was in the military deploying back-to-back-to-back to Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple deployments.

What I am thankful for is surviving and having the chance to build the life I have with my amazing wife and three precious children.

Attached is the picture of the truck after a roadside bomb took us out. There is no reason I should be alive today other than God had big plans.
Geoff Wheelock
Queen Creek, AZ

Live the Adventure roadtrip and mustaches

Friends forever
I am thankful for my friends! They keep me sane and remind me that life isn't just about me. We are always looking for silly new adventures and ways to meet the needs of the hurting in our community.

I love that they aren't afraid to put me in my place when I go a little crazy. My friends are more than just my friends, they are my family!

Starting over
Through the course of my life I've had to start over "from nothing" no less than three times. I'm thankful that I've the intellect and resilience to make it through these trials, because I'm now able to share my life with my wonderful son. We are fortunate that I'm employed, have a nice little house in the country with decent schools, and are able to share this modest bounty with good friends and neighbors. It's my strongest desire to continue this and raise my son to be a good husband and father someday.
Ann Jacklin
Lebanon, TN

The Red Baron
I am thankful for my family, who are always busy living their lives, but know where to find me, when all is said and done. I am thankful for my animals who love me so much, and give me so much love without question I am thankful to be living in the greatest country on Earth, these United States of America and to be a citizen of this great nation.

The Red Baron

I am thankful I can voice my opinions and my thanks to Jesus Christ my Saviour without being persecuted for my beliefs. I am very thankful to be fortunate to have a job and for my husband to have a very good job, even if it means we are separated for almost all of the year.

I am very thankful for turning 50 and for the lovely red car I got! Most of all, I am thankful for a year of good health and well being for my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Annie Wilson
Denver, CO

Long road to recovery
I am very thankful this year because my daddy is doing great after having cancer surgery in March on his face. The doctors had to remove a part of the skin on his cheek and remove his limp nodes in his neck. They had to remove skin from his leg to replace the skin they removed on his face.

It was very shaky at first. We thought we were going to lose him a few times. After several days in the hospital they put him in a rehab center for eight weeks. He came home but ended back in the hospital just days later because he got an infection from the rehab center.

After the hospital got him all well he ended back in the rehab center again for a couple of weeks. This time when he came home he stayed home. It's been a long road for him and my mom but thankfully he is doing great.

My daddy will be 83 next month. The rate the doctors were taking care of him we weren’t sure if he would make it to this birthday but thankfully my mom listen to us girls and got another doctor who really cares about my dad.
Charlotte Eastman
Ferguson, MO

My daughter

Against the odds
I have so much to be grateful for in my life. I know for a fact that I am not supposed to be in the position I am today. If you were to go by statistics, I was supposed to have been a teenage mother and a drug addict. I was supposed to have continued the cycle of poverty.

However, through the grace of God and a lot of people in my corner, I hold a management position in government and I am working on my Ph.D. I defeated the odds.

However, what I am most grateful for is my wonderful husband who supports me in all my endeavors, who believes me, and who loves me with all of his heart and soul. I am grateful for my precious daughter whose smile can brighten up an entire room and laughter can heal any broken heart. She is so perfect and beautiful.

Although I have achieved a level of success, my family is what is most important to me and without them I would not be anybody.
Melissa Bailey
Prattville, AL

Water filled my sister's basement and rose to knee height on the main floor.

Spared from the floods
I am thankful that the city in which I live built a dike to save my house from the flooding Missouri River.

Four days separated the announcement that a flood was coming and the city's decision that they would built a dike.

We frantically sandbagged our house and our neighbors' homes and moved our belongings out, but in the end our house remained dry. I am so grateful that we were spared.

My sister, 100 miles north in Minot, N.D., wasn't so lucky.
Andrea Fonkert
Bismark, ND

I recently bought a new car. But that’s not what I’m thankful for, it’s just a symptom. My wife and I both worked for a large company for over 15 years, and built a good and modest life together, doing all the usual things you do when times are good. In 2006, we even managed to build the house we’d been dreaming of owning for years.

But then, in 2008, the company began to show signs that it was in serious trouble and my wife was cut in the first round of layoffs. I managed to hang on until January of 2009, when I, along with several hundred others who had unknowingly built their lives on shifting sands, learned that the company would be closing its doors for good. I was out of a job and my new home was losing value at a record pace.

With over 3000 newly unemployed people flooding the local job market, my wife and I chose to sell our new home for 35 percent less than we paid for it just two-and-a-half years before and move back to where we met. I never imagined that at 44 years old I would move in with my in-laws, but it was a decision that would allow us to remain mobile while we searched for work. Those were hard times. You just don’t realize how much your work, your home, and your social network define you until they’re all gone.

Thankfully, my wife and I are both employed today. We are older and more cautious than before, and I hope wiser. But I knew that things were stabilizing for us when we both decided that it was time for me to finally replace my 9-year-old car. I’ve always been a little amused by peoples' reaction to the smell of a new car, since I’m certain everyone would hate it in any other context.

But people like it because it means something. It means new, shiny, perfect and success. To me, my car smells like a life not restored, but at least repaired.
Doug Hess
Cincinnati, OH