Maria Shriver and Patrick Schwarzenegger talk gratitude during scaled-back Thanksgiving

“I’m a big believer in having a gratitude practice… it can actually help you get through a day.”

As many Americans prepare to sit down to a coronavirus-induced, scaled-back Thanksgiving dinner, Maria Shriver spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson about what she’s thankful for, and the role gratitude plays in her life all year round.

“Every morning, I wake up, and expressing gratitude is the first thing I do,” Shriver told Michaelson. “I give thanks that I actually open my eyes, I give thanks to God for allowing my feet to touch the floor, and when I go downstairs and make my coffee, I actually sit down and kind of think about my life and think about everything that I’m grateful for.”

“I’m grateful for my children, that they’re here, that they’re healthy,” California’s former First Lady continued. “I’m grateful for the home that I live in, I’m grateful that my brothers are healthy, that my family is supportive… there’s so many things that I try to kind of list off on my gratitude practice in the morning, and at night, and it helps me center myself for the day.”

It is ideas like this that Shriver pursues in greater detail in The Sunday Paper, her digital newsletter she said is meant to “rise above the noise” and “inspire you and to help you move forward” by focusing on the issues that bring people together. The newsletter can be found at

Shriver’s current reflection on gratitude comes during a Thanksgiving season in which Americans are being advised to cancel large family gatherings as a way to blunt a new wave of coronavirus. 

This, as the US has now logged more than 250,000 COVID-related deaths, and, with as many as 198,000 new positive cases a day, is approaching 13 million infections since the pandemic hit the nation earlier this year.

Recognizing the pain coronavirus has inflicted upon Americans, Shriver’s son, Patrick Schwarzenegger, echoed his mother’s sentiment regarding gratitude, saying that it has become important to find ways to be thankful during the pandemic.

“I think that a lot of people have been really struggling during these times - businesses, individuals - all across our nation, and across the world,” Schwarzenegger said. “The fact that I’m healthy, and my mom, and my dad, and siblings are healthy, I think that’s probably the top thing I’m always grateful for, especially right now.” 

During the Thanksgiving holiday in particular, Schwarzenegger added that he is extremely grateful that “I’m getting to be with my family, getting to still have food, and be at a dinner table with each other.”

While that part of The Shriver-Schwarzenegger Thanksgiving tradition is able to remain unchanged, Schwarzenegger did note that this will be the first year the family is unable to hand-out meals to those in need at their local church. Shriver added that the church will be distributing meals this year, but not hosting a sit-down meal as it has in year’s past.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

“So trying to find other ways to be able to give back,” Schwarzenegger said. “It feels a little weird when you’re not physically doing something, you know, you can always find ways to give financially, but when you actually go, and this is part of our family tradition every year, so that will be interesting to see as well.”

“We’re going to get a new tradition,” Shriver responded.

In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Shriver and Schwarzenegger also discussed the growing importance of charity during this holiday season, Schwarzenegger’s new film Echo Boomers, and the lasting impact Shriver’s mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and father, Sargent Shriver, had through their respective creations of the Special Olympics and Peace Corps.

The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30PM and Sundays at 9:00AM. For more showtimes and information, go to