What does it mean to be Thankful?

A Blog Dedicated to Gabby Annunziato 

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

-William Arthur Ward

#Thankful. #Blessed. #Giving. #Thanksgiving. In a society that has become dominated by social media, sometimes its hard to not get stuck in the “Hallmark” of it all. You know what I mean… perfectly staged family photos. Spending hours trying to get just the right angle on your baked goodies. Deliberating humorous, punny, intelligent hashtags, for weeks in advance. Preparing to have the maximum likes on EVERY social media platform like, ever. We spend so much time perfecting these visions that the picture becomes empty. Sure you see people in them, or food, or cats, or babies, or babies eating cupcakes while petting a cat and wearing a Santa hat… But, most of the time, we spend so much time on that picture we lose the actual time. We lose the memories.

So this got me thinking. Social media aside, what does it actually mean to be thankful?

To me, it means appreciation even when things are bad. It means being able to see past the, “this only happens to me” or “#firstworldproblems.” It means looking at life and understanding that you are not promised ANYTHING, which the results in you appreciating EVERYTHING. So what am I thankful for? I am thankful that I woke up today. I am thankful that I have a job of my choosing. I am thankful for a family and boyfriend who never tell me, “You can’t do that” and always push me to be more than I was yesterday, even on the days when I don’t want to hear it. I’m thankful for my 100lb Labrador “lapdog” (YES, this is a thing.) I’m thankful that I have a strong friend base. I’m thankful that, in a moment of crisis and despair, this friend base (really more of a community) banded around one person when they needed it the most. I’m thankful for these selfless, dependable, passionate friends, who over the last 20 years have grown into a HUGE family community of constant love and support.

In the last few weeks, with word that a dear friends little sister got sick, I think about my brother. My brother is the exact same age, ONLY 19 years old. It’s hard not to think “what if this was me.” I still remember the day I was leaving for college. At the time, my little brother, Reece, was only 12. I still remember at the very last minute before I walked out the door, he came running to me holding his favorite stuffed animal from his childhood — a fluffy, tan, little dog. At that time it was one of his most prized possessions, and he knowingly went and found what was MOST important to him, and gave it to me. He then proceeded to latch onto me and cry incessantly. I remember feeling like I was leaving home empty. Even amongst all of the excitement for college, I felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind. And, you know what? I did leave a piece of me behind. This is what it’s like to have a sibling; someone who has been there with you, through the good and the bad. They’re the only other people on this planet that fully understand how absolutely weird your parents can be. And to be an older sibling, is to have a constant attachment, responsibility, and connection to another person. I have a deep since of pride for both of my babies brothers. I feel like if they hurt, I hurt. If someone picks on them, you best believe I am coming for them… (this has actually been proven on multiple occasions, resulting in trips to the principals office… NOT sorry). So when I learned my dear friend Geno’s little sister Gabby was diagnosed with cancer, my heart broke into a million pieces.

Gabby is a 19 your old college student. She is the youngest and only daughter, having two older brothers. Gabby is shy at first, but anyone who knows her will tell you she is absolutely the sweetest person. Having two older brothers, she has developed a love for basketball and, more importantly, the New York Knicks. And a couple weeks ago, Gabby was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma Cancer, but she has been nothing but optimistic and positive. Gabby has a tough fight ahead of her, but I KNOW she will make it through this! She has been nothing but optimistic and positive.

Gabby, I know this is going to be a testing time in your life. I know there will good days and bad, but I also know you are not alone.

You can follow along with Gabby in her journey on her Caring Bridge account www.caringbridge.org/visit/gabbyannunziato. Here is a recent excerpt from her account.

gabby a.

In Gabby’s Words:

“Not every 19-year-old expects to hear the words “You have cancer”, but then again, I’ve never been like most other 19-year-olds. I have stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and this will be the fight of my life, no doubt. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my life will forever be shaped by this journey. It will be hard, but I know that I will come out on top. Everyone always says how strong I am and I think what you need more than strength sometimes is resilience, and an awesome support system. I deeply appreciate every single person who has sent positive thoughts and words my way; you are all a part of this fight as well, and I can’t thank you enough for that. This is our journey, and I aim to keep you all informed of the process, through the good and the bad. Now let’s do this.” -Gabby

So this thanksgiving, I am asking you to help this sweet girl. I am thankful for a friend group that has banded around her already, without hesitation. But, this is going to be a very expensive fight. This is something we can HELP with. With everything that Gabby and her family will go through in the next few months, we can make sure that the financial aspect is not one of them. I want Gabby and her family to spend time appreciated one another and fighting this battle, not fighting to make ends meet. This girl deserves YOUR help. So this year, instead of indulging in Black Friday, I am challenging you instead to donate to Gabby’s Fight https://www.gofundme.com/Gabby19 and spend Black Friday APPRECIATING the ones around you. I will be forgoing any shopping on Black Friday and I truly hope you will too! So friends, lets all band together and #FightforGabby!

This Thanksgiving, I feel extremely #Blessed and #Thankful for the ones around me. Today when you sit down at the table and go to take a food selfie, put down your phone. Look across the table. You weren’t promised tomorrow, but you still have today. Appreciate today, and spend time building memories, not likes.


For more information on how to help this sweet girl and her family please contact me at rylee.l.calvert@gmail.com!

Thank you ALL in advance for your support and love! All we have is each other and with each other we have all we need.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Nina Esclava