What Some Chicagoans Are Most Thankful For In 2020

Celebrations may look a little different this year, but we asked Curious City question askers and experts about one Thanksgiving tradition.

Thankfulness thumbnail
Mackenzie Crosson / WBEZ
Thankfulness thumbnail
Mackenzie Crosson / WBEZ

What Some Chicagoans Are Most Thankful For In 2020

Celebrations may look a little different this year, but we asked Curious City question askers and experts about one Thanksgiving tradition.

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There’s no doubt that for many people, 2020 has been a tough year and with Thanksgiving in our midst, it might be harder than usual to list off all the things we might be thankful for. Here at Curious City, we rely on the public to send us a steady supply of questions and we’re grateful for all the great questions that we’ve gotten so far in 2020 (Keep them coming!).

And we thought we’d keep one Thanksgiving tradition this year. So we checked in with some of our question askers and experts who’ve helped answer your questions and asked them something you might have heard around the Thanksgiving table: What are you most thankful for this year?

Like a lot of people, they told us they were thankful for family, friends and health. But they also gave us new insights on the parts of life that can bring joy and perspective to an unusual holiday season in Chicago. Here’s what they had to say:

Chris and Evan Robinson

Chris Robinson and his 14-year-old son Evan noticed an abundance of Thai restaurants in Chicago, and they asked Curious City to investigate.

Chris and Evan Robinson
Monica Eng / WBEZ

“I’m just happy that I’ve been able to enjoy so much time with them [my parents], thankful that me and my family have been able to just have fun in the kitchen and been able to experiment and just try different things that we wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise.” —Evan

“I have two kids who are away at college right now and they’ve managed to keep themselves safe and secure and it’s very tempting to not. But they’ve done a very good job with that, and I’m really proud of them for that as well.” —Chris

Bela Gandhi

Bela Gandhi founded the Smart Dating Academy and helped us understand how COVID-19 has changed the dating scene in Chicago.

“In the dating world, I’m grateful that most of the sites and the dating apps have brought video into [them], which has allowed so many meaningful, beautiful connections this year.”

Bela Gandhi headshot
(Courtesy of AJ Kane)

Nicole Virgil

Avid gardener Nicole Virgil helped Curious City answer a question about the best ways to extend the Illinois growing season without spending a lot of money. Vigil has been fighting for the right of residents to own hoop houses: affordable structures that allow people to grow vegetables outside, even in the winter.

Nicole Virgil in her backyard garden
Monica Eng / WBEZ

“I am so grateful this year that we were able to grow more food for our family than any year previous. So we are still eating potatoes and leeks and that means potato leek soup and scalloped potatoes with leeks.”

Ricardo and Marcela Serment

As new parents to twin boys, Ricardo and Marcela Serment asked Curious City when it would be safe for relatives to visit the newest members of the family.

“I’m grateful for our health and the boys’ health, and that we’ve made it this far, and so grateful for the support of our family and friends who have found a way to just kind of also show us their love and support through these difficult times.” —Marcela

“I’m thankful for Marcela who is a super mom, taking care of the twins while I am remote teaching. And for our family and friends who are so supportive at this time and there for us through texts, video chats or dropping off chocolate chip cookies.” —Ricardo

Ricardo and Marcela Serment with twin newborns
(Courtesy of Ricardo and Marcela Serment)

Miguel Blancarte Jr.

After quitting his consulting job in the spring, Miguel Blancarte Jr. became the site manager for the CORE COVID-19 community testing center at his old elementary school in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. He shared his experience as part of our series about life during the pandemic.

Miguel Blancarte Jr at his CORE COVID-19 testing facility
(Courtesy of Miguel Blancarte Jr)

“I am thankful to every one of those partners [and] collaborators that I’ve been working with in order to address coronavirus in our city, in our state and really, in our country.”

Dorian Sylvain

This summer, Curious City answered a question about what was being done to preserve protest art in Chicago following the killing of George Floyd. Muralist and art instructor Dorian Sylvain promoted the preservation of plywood murals that were painted on boarded-up businesses.

“I’m most thankful that I am a member of an awesome artistic community in Chicago that looks out for each other.”

Dorian Sylvain in her backyard
Mackenzie Crosson / WBEZ

Monica Eng is a WBEZ reporter. Contact her at meng@wbez.org. Hannah Boomershine is a podcast intern at WBEZ. Get in touch with her at hboomershine@wbez.org.