Things I Am Thankful For, 2021 Edition

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and while I think a lot of people these days see that holiday mostly as a turkey-spangled speedbump in front of the unstoppable juggernaut that is Christmas, I do think it’s useful to take a moment and reflect on the things that one has to be thankful for, especially over the course of the year. So here are things I’m thankful for, here in 2021.

I’m thankful for Joe Biden. Not in a creepy, “this is my man and I will follow him unto death” sort of way, because, come on, no one thinks about Joe Biden that way, possibly not even his dog. I’m thankful for him in the sense that for ten months now I haven’t felt a sickness in my gut wondering what damn fool, possibly unconstitutional, definitely self-centering thing our president is doing today. I can in fact go entire days not thinking about Joe Biden, which honestly is both refreshing after the previous four years, and should be my right as an American, with regard to the President of the United States.

Biden’s not perfect by any stretch, and clearly his current approval ratings are, uhhhhh, not great. That said, he is performing pretty much to my expectations, and as well as he can, considering the 50 Democratic senators he has for his majority are actually 48 Democratic senators, one clearly-a-Republican-but-pretending-to-be-a-Democrat-for-lulz, and one chaos agent, considering the opposing political party has lost its mind and would rather burn the country to the ground than do anything useful, and considering that, like every other Democratic president in recent memory, Biden’s first job out of the gate was dealing with all the disasters and time bombs the previous administration left behind. One works with what one has, and Biden’s doing all right with that. Even if he wasn’t, he’s still better than what we had. Thanks for letting me not think about you, President Biden. I surely appreciate it.

I’m thankful I wrote a novel this year. And a novella too, actually, but the novel was, career-wise, a smidge more important. 2020 was a bust on the novel-writing front, for various reasons, mostly relating to the fact that reality was continually pulling focus on me, and the fact that the novel I was trying to write last year was meant to be a bit grim and cynical, and 2020 wasn’t the year to write grim and cynical (or at least, it wasn’t the year for me to write it). So to be able to turn around from that disaster scenario and write a novel that’s a) really fun, b) that I really like, c) and that my publisher is pretty damn happy with too, was, bluntly, a massive fucking relief. There are other reasons to be thankful about it on the practical side of things (i.e., this is how I make my money, and I need money, because we live in a capitalist society, and also, I do ill-advised things like buy six-necked guitars), but mostly, I was just happy that after a year of grinding gears, creatively, 2021 saw me back on track in a big way. Related:

I’m thankful I didn’t release a novel this year. Fun fact: the novel I was writing in 2020 was supposed to be out this last October, and Kaiju was written quickly enough that Tor could have, in fact, slotted it into that release date. Instead, Tor looked at the publishing landscape of 2021 and said to itself yeeeeeeeah, let’s not, and bumped Kaiju into 2022 instead. Which was good! We’ve had more time to plot and plan for the release, and also, hey, you know that “supply chain” issue this year? It’s been particularly bad for publishing, and October was especially a not good month on that score. We dodged an actual bullet on that one, and didn’t make life worse for the authors who did have books out this October by fighting them for, like, paper. Also, hopefully by March we may be able to do in-store events and have a live-action book tour and all of that good stuff.

To be clear, in a perfect world I would have had a novel out in 2021, consistent with the plan to have a novel out every year to keep readers happy. But, well [motions to the imperfect world]. Given everything, waiting made sense. And Kaiju, I think, will be worth the wait for most of you.

I’m thankful for the COVID vaccines. In both the case of the initial set of vaccines and then with the booster, I signed up to get them as early as humanly possible because, I don’t know if you know this, but COVID-19 is a novel virus that is highly transmissible, kills a lot of people it infects — 775,000 in the US to date — and leaves lots of the people who survive the infection with long-term debilitations. It’s bad! And if you get the vaccines, not only does your chance of initial infection go down by a significant multiple, if you do get it, the chance of requiring hospitalization for it goes down by an even more significant multiple and the chances of dying from it go down by an even more significant multiple still. This is just basic math. I got vaccinated and boosted. So did my family.

I’m deeply thankful my family is now highly unlikely to die or be significantly debilitated from this now easily-preventable viral infection that is still killing thousands each week, those deaths now almost exclusively concentrated among people who will not take a safe and effective vaccine because people who should have known better made avoiding a horrible fucking disease and looking out for others by not being an active vector of infection a political litmus test, and counted on their supporters’ ignorance and tribal inclinations to weaponize those positions. “Be willing to get sick and possibly die to own the libs” is no way to go through life, and as it happens, at least some of those who chose that route won’t get through it.

Anyway, get vaccinated if you can, y’all. I’m thankful I did. You’ll be thankful you did, too.

I’m thankful we got a dog. Because Charlie’s cute, and a little bit of canine chaos in the house is fun. Well, mostly. She can be exasperating sometimes too, but honestly, that can be said about any of us, can it not. I do continue to be thankful for my cats, too, just to be clear. It’s not a contest. Don’t make it a contest! We love all our pets.

I’m thankful I got to see friends and go out into the world again this year. From March 2020 to June 2021, I went no further than about 25 miles from my house and saw almost no one in person who wasn’t family or an immediate neighbor. It wasn’t horrible, but even for an introvert like me, it got to be a little much. But then we got vaccinated! And friends got vaccinated! And the chance we would accidentally kill or debilitate our pals by giving them a hug went down considerably! Also, events started to happen again, because sensible “mask and vaxx” policies became a thing. And now I have a real world social life and an appearance schedule again. I appreciate it and don’t take it for granted. It’s nice to actually see friends, you know?

I’m thankful for the usual things too. A family that I love, who is mostly happy and mostly healthy. A job I like and a house that’s nice to live in. That I am doing well enough that I can buy silly guitars. That I just get to live and not worry about my own circumstances most days. All of these things are good, and I don’t want to elide them to note the stuff I have above. So, here they are.

These are (some of) the things I’m thankful for, here in 2021, coming into Thanksgiving and the holiday season. I hope that there are things you feel thankful this year as well.

— JS

35 Comments on “Things I Am Thankful For, 2021 Edition”

  1. Notes:

    1. Bullshit vaccine comments will be Malleted. I have no time and no patience for anti-vaxx nonsense here. Please don’t test this proposition.

    2. Also, I would prefer not to have the thread be a long discussion about Biden’s effectiveness as president. I imagine we’ll have other threads for this, eventually.

    3. If you do want to post some the things you are thankful for, by all means, go ahead.

  2. I’m thankful that here in Kentucky our governor had the sense to back mandates and encourage vaccinations instead of trying to score political points. Also, more family moved here so that is awesome.

  3. Right back at ya, Pal. You said it perfectly. Except for the guitars, but I have my own weaknesses. Please accept my very best wishes for ultimate success and happiness. I watch you from afar with great anticipation for your next tome.

  4. I am thankful for all the things Scalzi listed (although I own 6 guitars each with a single neck) but I am also grateful for Scalzi. I like his ability to entertain with his imaginative books and share his thoughts on his blog.

    Since retiring I spend the bulk of my free time reading; news of course (too much!), and good non-fiction, but I love novels the most. I’d always had a goal of reading 100 books in a calendar year but school, career, family, etc… always kept that just out of reach although I did hit 98 one year.

    Now with all the free time in the world, it’s been easy to achieve this goal, reading 108 books in 2019, 112 in 2020 and I’ll finish #98 today and plan to make James S.A. Corey’s “Leviathan Falls,” the finale of “The Expanse” series, #100 for 2021. Just wish it could have been “Kaiju Preservation Society” but that’s okay. Something to look forward to for 2022!

  5. Like you, I’m so grateful to be able to focus on other things than the next potential disaster from the previous POTUS. The existential dread hovering over all of 2020 has dissipated and that is a great, great feeling!

  6. I’m thankful that the pandemic eased enough that I got to move from Florida to Tennessee. I had planned to do that in 2020 but then 2020 happened. Now thanksgiving with family is across town not 750 miles each way.

  7. I’m also thankful for Biden because next semester people in my building have to have masks and vaccinations or else the university loses all its grant money no matter what our state laws about mandates say. That is probably not going to help his popularity overall, but it means me returning to my office next semester is going to be so much less scary, especially with holiday ‘vid and students returning to school ‘vid in the air.

    Speaking of which I am so grateful for the vaccines for kids. That means my youngest can go back to school next semester and I can go back to my office next semester without me being (as) terrified that she’ll end up with long Covid (or worse) that we could have protected her from.

  8. Congrats on your good fortune. However we do not agree on Joe Biden and if this looks like success we’ve got bigger problems than I thought. I am thankful for health and family and the ability to elect responsible leaders in the next few years.

  9. Writing from Toronto, this Canadian is also delighted to see Joe Biden elected President. This man has put in a full career of public service, but ended up bobbing to the top of the pile to run against TFG, and he turns out to be a great choice. And his VP is excellent.

    So, congrats on your fortune — someone once said, “The harder I work, the more luck I have.”, and I think that might apply here.

    A plethora of musical instruments is also pretty sweet (I purchased a Stratocaster as a pandemic present, and it’s been awesome).

  10. I don’t know. The constant bouts of rage I got from TFG did fuel my workouts.
    Otherwise super grateful no one in my immediate family has gotten covid.

  11. “even for an introvert like me”

    If someone as outgoing and public as you is an introvert, my understanding of the term needs adjusting. I should probably check my pulse, because my own introvert-y-ness might actually be, y’know, a coma or something.

  12. Being able to buy toilet paper again is nice. I have bigger things to be thankful for, but I do really just plain like toilet paper being readily available. (along with rubbing alcohol, which I tried – and failed – to get with every grocery delivery order for many, many months….)

  13. I am thankful that even at his absolute worst, Joe Biden so far still has been many orders of magnitude better than Trump ever was, even at Trump’s ludicrous so-called “best.”

  14. I just saw a guilty verdict was announced for the three men who lynched Arbery. In the face of all thats happened in the last few years, i am so thankful for this that i could cry.

  15. Things I’m thankful for in 2021:

    Finally getting vaccinated against COVID–The first time was like pulling back teeth trying to schedule an appointment. The second time was a dream.

    Being in the theater to see “Summer of Soul”–Theater moviegoing is one of my pleasures, and watching this wonderful documentary featuring performances by a bunch of great Black artists was a hoot.

    Using my stimulus money for good spending–The government stimulus funds I received went to supporting neighborhood restaurants, helping out local bookstores with pre-orders of Charlie Jane Anders books, and even getting a decent basic Blu-Ray player.

  16. I’m thankful for my family, my cats (sadly, we lost one to cancer 10 days ago) {sob}, great people & cat doctors, and our home. We’re also grateful for adults running the country again and very good vaccines. We’re grateful for plenty of SF&F.

  17. I’m thankful for you, John, and this blog, and your books. I just finished listening to Fuzzy Nation for the umpteenth time because it’s my go-to book for when I’m not feeling (mentally/emotionally) great. So thank you, John, for your words and your actions and your example. We really appreciate it. :)

  18. A small thing, perhaps, but a big increase now is the beauty in my life: You know how the second most expensive thing for Americans, after a home, is their car? My third is my bed.

    I’m so grateful I found the nerve to splurge.

    Last week I dumped my stupid huge wall bed for a horizontal wall bed, in space age white. Matches my wall color, and helps me feel like a character out of Citizen of the Galaxy. Now I have more wall space for four big paintings, plus a top-of-bed shelf for sculptures.

    Oh, and my smallest new canvas is a three quarter profile of a confident Victorian era woman over her words in charcoal, “Run you clever boy and remember.”

  19. I like your list, Mr. Scalzi – thanks for sharing that glimpse with us.

    I am incredibly, profoundly grateful for vaccines. When I was finally able to schedule my first one (on April Fool’s Day, no less, which seems appropriate), I was giddy with joy and relief, and I literally bounced into the pharmacy to get jabbed. Sooooo grateful!!

    I am both thrilled and deeply grateful that my daughter and son-in-law had a healthy baby last month, after a very long and difficult ordeal to reach that point. Being a grandparent at last is a dream come true for me.

    I am grateful that my children grew up into responsible, stable, likeable, productive adults who vote in every election and who make real efforts to be useful allies.

    I am grateful that my spouse was able to retire at last from a toxic work environment, and for the positive impact that has had on his outlook on life.

    And I am always and ever grateful for my cats, who have gotten me through the past two years when I didn’t think anything could.

    Happy day of thanks to all, and may the future bring you health and joy.

  20. I am grateful that only a couple of my circle of friends and family got COVID, and the 2 that did recovered pretty quickly and took this as a Sign they really ought to, y’know, get vaccinated. Grateful for a roof over my head, sufficient to eat (more than sufficient, tomorrow), and friends to share it with.

  21. Thankful that I made it another year (today is my birthday) and to Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). We have now been to two Broadway shows and two big concerts (with another coming in December) and those all went well, as NYC requires PROOF of vaccination, as well as masks being worn at indoor venues.

    Also thankful that we’ll be seeing friends from out of town next week, followed by us going out of town (New Orleans) for the first time (well, first on a plane, we drove to Boston this summer( since all this happened, including being able to visit other friends down there. And after last winter at home, it will be great to be able to get back to Florida this winter,

    But then, at this age I am thankful for every single day I have and repeatedly say so, We;re damn fortunate and I am extremely grateful.

    Stay safe out there one and all, and have a great Thanksgiving.

  22. I, too, am thankful for a president who doesn’t make me contemplate my bugout plan and go-bag evrytime I see the words “breaking news.”

    I am thankful that I have a job that pays relatively well and allows me to work remotely.

    I am eternally thankful that essential workers who aren’t as privileged as I am are willing to risk their and their families’ lives to ensure that me and my family have the everyday things we need.

    I am thankful that I was able to access a safe and free (no real money to pay for it if it were an expensive procedure) vaccine that made it safe for me to venture into a public space without killing myself.

    I am thankful that, unlike so, so many families at home and abroad, I have the means to purchase the ingredients necessary for a holiday meal, access to safe drinking water and a sufficient food supply.

    I am thankful that what passes for a justice system in this country has brought a tome down on the heads of three murdering white-supremacist barf-bags in Georgia.

    I am thankful that I had the means to keep up with my rent and that my family and I aren’t in debt to a landlord who wants us out last year.

    I am very, very thankful that no one in my family has contracted the delta and that the sister who did catch covid was 24, relatively healthy and so got the “cold-like” symptoms and nothing more.

    And I’m thankful to you, john, for the first real gut laugh I’ve had in quite awhile:

    “`Be willing to get sick and possibly die to own the libs” is no way to go through life, and as it happens, at least some of those who chose that route won’t get through it.’”

    Scared the cat with that laugh. Thanks.

  23. I am grateful for the vaccine that allows me to spend the day with my family today.
    I am grateful for my coworkers, who have worked so hard to keep our residents safe, we only lost four, which is a lot better than other nursing homes in the area.
    Lastly, I too am grateful that we have a decent human being in the WH.
    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

  24. I am thankful for all my pets, and even for the wood furnace (which I hate), because my partner died in September and it is very good to have things that must be done in a timely manner, like petcare and feeding the furnace.

  25. I’m thankful not-Trump is POTUS. Wouldn’t matter if it was a Galapagos tortoise, at least we’re not subject to the constant ego-gratification-seeking that was in our faces for four long years.

  26. I’m pleased that measures to stop or slow the spread of COVID have worked well enough that soon they won’t be needed quite so urgently. Immunization against COVID, as for influenza, could be a leisurely once-per-season booster, instead of the “millions worldwide will suffer & die needlessly unless everyone can roll up their sleeve now!” situation, which sadly is still with us.

    An end to lockdown? Part of me says, “Oh crap, more face-to-face interaction ahead!” Mostly, though, I am pleased for my fellow human beings who enjoy that kind of thing. :)

    I’m grateful for the internet, for F&SF, and for the oasis of sanity that is Whatever.

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