When you're grateful for what you are and what you have, Thanksgiving is perpetual, Henry David Thoreau once wrote.
Here in Philadelphia, we have a lot to be thankful for this year.
Back in 2016, when Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven grown children won the 18th largest Powerball jackpot in history — $429.6 million — the Trenton, N.J., family promised to do good with their winnings.
Two years later, they've delivered in a big way. Instead of fleeing their hometown for greener pastures, the family is reinvesting in Trenton to make greener pastures right there.
While South Jersey substitute teacher Ruth Reed hasn't won the lottery, she has resolved to help out fellow customers at Wawa who appear down on their luck. So when she noticed a man who was short a few bucks at the Medford Wawa in August, she stepped up and paid his bill.
Turned out, it was country star and millionaire Keith Urban.
Other stories about giving that inspired us this year include:
If it's possible for fans to forget the past two weeks, the most uplifting story in Philadelphia for many this year was the Eagles finally clinching a Super Bowl win over Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Louis DePaul was a life-long Eagles fan who died in February, not long after the team's Super Bowl win. DePaul's son, Stephen, wanted to spread his father's ashes on the field following the Eagles Week 1 win against the Falcons this season, but security officials at The Link stopped him. So Ryan Banks, a fan who was seated a row in front of DePaul, took the ashes and dumped them onto the field when the security guards turned away.
"It's great for my dad, because he'll always be here now," DePaul said.
Haley Parks, a 21-year-old fan, thought she'd missed the Super Bowl when she awoke from anesthesia after having her wisdom teeth removed before the big game. Her hilarious reaction, captured on video and shared on Facebook, quickly went viral.
Among those who saw the video were the Eagles, who rewarded Parks' suffering with two tickets to the Super Bowl.
Other inspirational stories made possible by the Eagles' Super Bowl victory include:
This year there certainly wasn't any shortage of inspiration to draw on from some of Philly's youngest citizens.
Seven-year-old Alivia Whitaker of Fishtown raised money through a lemonade stand to buy SEPTA Key cards for students who needed them and Anea B. Moore, a Philly native and University of Pennsylvania senior, won a Rhodes Scholarship to continue her education at the prestigious University of Oxford in England.
Local students also fought against gun violence following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. High school and college students worked together to organize Philly's March for Our Lives, while students from Parkway Center City Middle College took on internet trolls who attacked their views on the issue.
And Yuva Gambhir, a 17-year-old Masterman School student, studied Duchenne muscular dystrophy — a disease he was diagnosed with as a toddler that cost him his ability to walk.
"I often used to think about 'Why me?' " Yuva told an audience at a fundraiser. "I realized that true disability is just giving up on what's important and just not trying anymore."
Here are a few more inspirational stories born from some of the city's younger residents:
When Kahlif Snowden was Tasered by police in 2011 and left in a vegetative state, his father, John Snowden, stuck by his side. Literally.
Readers touched by his story wanted to do more. One anonymous couple, in a small but profound gesture, donated a new chair to Snowden to replace the old one that was worn down by the hours he spent next to his son.
"We hope you find a little comfort in this recliner while you spend time with Kahlif," read the accompanying card.
Also offering comfort to strangers is Carol Rostucher, or "everyone's mom," whose search for her own son on Kensington Avenue led her to help others she came across. She started a volunteer organization, Angels in Motion, whose mission is to better the lives of those in addiction.
Then there's Amina Aliako, a Syrian refugee who made it her mission to go from cleaning toilets at the Reading Terminal Market to owning her own business there. Now, you can visit her at Amina's Foods in the Market on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
"To get from that point [where she started] to where she is today is remarkable," said Anuj Gupta, general manager of the Reading Terminal.
Can't get enough? Here are a few more tales that'll tug at your heartstrings:
Every day the four-legged inhabitants of this world make it a little better place for all of us to be, without ever saying word.
Sometimes our bonds with the animals we love are hard to explain and can only be felt. The relationship between prison guard Kevin Wernik and his horse, Joe N Trouble, in Cape May, N.J., is one some people get and some people don't, but the path that led them together is truly remarkable.
At the Free Library of Philadelphia's Read With a Dog! program, pooches are giving new meaning to the phrase dog-eared books by serving as attentive listening audiences for children who want to practice reading aloud.
And in a corner of Northeast Philly, Charlie the Philly Miracle Dog – who was found tied up and abandoned among piles of garbage behind the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center last year – is now living his best life with his new furever dad.
Other animal stories we're thankful for this year include: