The church where I served as an altar boy was run by two priests. They got along well—except for one quirk. When the first priest entered the sacristy, he would turn on the radio. When the second walked in, he would turn it off. This went on all Sunday. One padre believed that a grasp of current events helped his sermons. The other found the news too depressing. This last year, I began channeling both men. At any given moment, I was either turning on that sacristal radio for my job, or switching it off, overwhelmed. I wasn’t alone in this situation. Many of us at The Walrus struggled to find balance during a time of “small war on the heels of small / war,” as the American poet Robert Lowell once put it. I invited my colleagues to share any experiences that helped them endure the difficult year. What I got back was an amazing document—a deep-dive into gratitude. Its simplicity is striking: from recipes to concerts to podcasts to trips. Joy can thrive anywhere. I hope the exercise inspires you to reflect on your own extraordinary moments from 2023. From all of us: peace, good vibes, and happiness for the holidays. —Carmine Starnino, interim editor-in-chief 

Carmine Starnino – Interim Editor-in-Chief

1. Hard Fork, a New York Times podcast. It’s about the “bleeding edge of tech,” but the chemistry between Kevin Roose and Casey Newton often makes me laugh out loud.
2. Stunning digital project that took three years to make. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is immersively brought to life with readings by the Jeremy Irons, Hilary Mantel, and Iggy Pop, among many others
3. I can’t stop eating these, in original flavour. It’s a real problem
4. Past Lives, directed by Celine Song
5. The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles, Jason Guriel’s breathlessly paced sci-fi verse novel, tricked out in heroic couplets. It’s glorious fun.
6. My fourteen-year-old son finishing ninetieth (out of 3,000 players) at the Yu-Gi-Oh! 2023 North America World Championship Qualifier in Raleigh, North Carolina
7. Five episode series from The Essay podcast devoted to underappreciated aspects of great art
8. This poem
9. Rosa Balistreri’s ragged, dark-timbred voice
10. Succession

Mashal Butt – Senior Editorial Fellow

1. Becoming a permanent resident of Canada brought lots of joy!
2. Chasing the Truth by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
3. “Listening to Taylor Swift in Prison
4. “The End of Retirement” (not as joyous. More so fearing the future. But very helpful still)
5. This green tea helps me conduct fact-check calls before 9 a.m. And tastes amazing
6. This cutting knife which has made cooking so much fun
7. My new pair of Skechers
8. Securing tickets to Taylor Swift after failing four times
9. Nando’s Chicken
10. Not getting motion sickness while flying for the first time in a decade. And thus, not having to take sedatives and actually being able to enjoy the views from above

Mihika Agarwal – Editorial Fellow

1. Listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks by Jim Dale
2. Attending a Coldplay concert for the first time
3. Setting up my first (adult-looking) home in Vancouver/Canada
4. Graduating from Columbia Journalism School—with honours!
5. Recreating childhood recipes like dhokla and uttapam in my immigrant kitchen
6. Reading Yellowface by R. F. Kuang
7. Realizing this story on grief tech over six long and gratifying months
8. Visiting Paris for the first time
9. Reuniting with family and friends after a long time
10. Celebrating a wedding anniversary for the first time!

Samia Madwar – Senior Editor

1. Getting a bike trailer to tow around my toddler. It made Toronto much more explorable in the summer, plus my kid liked singing/yelling “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while we biked.
2. Jeremy Dutcher at Massey Hall.
3. Listening to the Middlesex audiobook
4. Liana Finck’s Substack
5. Planning a trip for 2024. All sorts of things can go wrong on a trip—flight cancellations, etc.—but nothing can take away the joy of anticipation.
6. The baba ghannoush at Keko Shawarma
7. Sheima Benembarek’s launch party for her book Halal Sex
8. Meeting Julie Nesrallah at Raja Khouri and Jeffrey Wilkinsons’ launch party for their book The Wall Between
9. The Morning Show
10. My kid’s dance class. Her cohort is young enough that parents have to participate in all the activities, and to me there’s no better therapy than running in circles, egg shakers in hand, to the music of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

Michelle Cyca – Contributing Writer

1. My hummingbird feeder, the best $16 I spent in 2020 that pays dividends with each ruby-throated visitor
2. Caity Weaver’s quest to find Tom Cruise
3. Big Swiss, the novel that cured my fiction malaise (and this specific profile of its author, Jen Beagin, whose writing habits are so bizarre that it would be a crime to spoil them)
4. The weekly hunt for Leif Penguinson, courtesy of the Nature Friday newsletter
5. An espresso subscription to Agro Roasters, which has rescued me from the devilish trap of realizing that I’m out of coffee at the exact moment when I desperately need coffee in order to summon the energy to go buy more coffee.
6. The final, perfect season of Reservation Dogs
7. The downy hair on my baby’s gloriously spherical head.
8. The specific way my four-year-old mispronounces “spaghetti” as “basquetti,” and the approximately 18,000 rainbows she drew for me in 2023.
9. This Star Walk app for identifying stars and other celestial objects, which has improved every cloudless night
10. Finally achieving the perfect chicken pot pie with this sourdough pie crust

Jennifer Hollett – Executive Director

1. Playing a Cannon Doll in The Nutcracker by the National Ballet of Canada
2. Riding my bike
3. Beyoncé live
4. Watching award-winning author Michelle Good receive fan mail from high school students
5. Dancing at a Disco Descendents family rave
6. Standup paddleboarding on a hot day
7. Snowboarding on a cold day
8. Naps
9. A drag queen giving my niece her fan
10. Celebrating twenty years of The Walrus

Dafna Izenberg – Features Editor

1. These biscotti, which someone brought as a gift and then I went out and bought three bags.
2. The Mavis Gallant short story “Voices Lost in Snow” gives me joy every year.
3. Everything my cat said and did this year
4. A friend getting a book deal on a memoir more than ten years into the writing
5. My stepson’s band, Pretty, had a terrific year, including opening for the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
6. We went to this brew pub three times in two days while in Montreal (yum).
7. “Woodland” by Saeed Teebi is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read.
8. We had a lovely celebration for my mother’s eightieth birthday.
9. Ann Charney’s Dobryd
10. I got to meet the members of The Musical Box, and their amazing artistic director, Serge.

Katarina Kaneff – Development Research Officer

1. Finally finishing a sweater that has been on my knitting needles for ages
2. Getting to go away for my husband’s birthday in January
3. Snorkelling with reef sharks in the Bahamas
4. Learning how to scuba dive, becoming a part of a new community, and diving The Tugs in Tobermory
5. Seeing my best friend for the first time in four years (she was living abroad)
6. Fountain pens and notebooks with good paper
7. Taking more time to take care of myself because I deserve it
8. Getting to my reading goal for the year
9. Both of my cats for their very distinct personalities
10. Being able to make my husband laugh when he isn’t expecting it, and him making me laugh until I cry

KC Hoard – Associate Editor

1. Renaissance World Tour (slay)
2. The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess by Chappell Roan (stupid fun!)
3. The Heartstopper comics
4. The Holdovers
5. Japanese vending machines (the canned coffee!)
6. Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a life-affirming documentary about the drag legend’s twenty-four-hour-long marathon show
7. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
8. Marcus Pork, a viral fashion designer with . . . one of a kind designs, like a Christmas sweater that says:

It’s Holiday
Let’s be infected with religion
and smush our prayer hands for God

9. Against all odds, Saw X being perfect
10. Reading The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. Some classics endure because they perfectly capture a moment in history; others last because they speak eternal truths. This was both.

Alana Hamilton – Creative Lead & Project Manager, The Walrus Lab

1. Family trip to Halifax
2. Celebrating my best friend’s fortieth birthday in Madrid
3. Joining a weekly trivia team with my much smarter friends
4. Introducing my five-year-old daughter to The Beatles
5. New TV shows: Shrinking, The Curse, Jury Duty, Tiny Beautiful Things
6. Past Lives
7. That Tom and Shiv balcony fight scene in Succession
8. Michael Shannon’s Criterion Closet Picks episode, and subsequent meme
9. The WTF episode with Albert Brooks
10. The “Lisa from Temecula” SNL skit

Carine Abouseif – Features Editor

1. Cappuccinos
2. Reading Je veux des frites!, a story about a little lapin who wants to eat French fries every day, to my son
3. Sitting on a picnic blanket in the park every afternoon in June
4. The first glass of wine after pregnancy
5. Reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca for the second time
6. These fancy chips
7. Only Murders in the Building season three
8. Gathie Falk’s floating cabbages at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
9. Stardew Valley
10. Dancing to Hall & Oates with my son

Harley Rustad – Senior Editor

1. Our new baby’s giggle
2. Our three year old’s imagination
3. This wool coat
4. Slow Horses
5. Running my first long-distance trail race and crossing the finish line the same second as a friend
6. Fire Weather by John Vaillant (joy for how well the book is written; horror for the story)
7. Launching The Walrus’s Contributing Writers
8. When I convinced my wife to rewatch the original The Fast and the Furious with me because “I think it’s become a cult classic” only to get forty-five minutes into it and realize that how I described the plot to her isn’t The Fast and the Furious but Gone in 60 Seconds.
9. Hiking on the Isle of Skye with my dad
10. Perfecting homemade ramen

Nicole Dirks – Yale Journalism Scholar

1. The soundtrack of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, especially the seventy-seven glorious seconds of the track “The Sound of Myself”
2. The story of a bell in a small town in Vermont, as told on Rumble Strip
3. Not exactly joyful, but reading Maggie Nelson’s Bluets in this colour-deprived weather
4. Rewatching every Hunger Games movie and understanding the social commentary that completely went over my head at twelve
5. Rediscovering toast
6. Françoise Hardy, queen of 1960s French pop
7. @Trail_Cams on X
8. A kazoo I got from a concert last week, where the opener was this incredible folk-punk-one-man-band-with-a-kazoo-and-guitar, King Strang. The thing has surprising range.
9. William Kurelek’s snowscapes with painted inner frames
10. Also Anatomy of a Fall, but specifically the miraculous survival of Snoop, played by the acting virtuoso and border collie double threat named Messi.

Laura Lavie – Development Director

1. Bonnie Stern’s Don’t Worry, Just Cook cookbook. Every single recipe I’ve tried is a winner.
2. Seeing The Kiffness live in Toronto with my three boys! The Kiffness is this awesome music artist from South Africa who mixes sound from YouTube videos of cats (and other animals, as well as street vendors). Recommended!
3. Reuniting with my family from Scotland, Italy, and Israel. Cannot promise that every moment was joyous, but overall—great joy!
4. On top of that, spending some lovely time in summer in Toronto, with my son and his wonderful girlfriend who stayed with us for a month.
5. Reading Stray Dogs by Rawi Hage—those beautiful stories, I want more.
6. Finding and buying heavily discounted Oak + Fort clothing at my local post office (!)
7. Seeing my twenty-two-year-old graduate and enjoy the day-long celebrations
8. Watching my fifteen-year-old ski for the first time!
9. Catching my nineteen-year-old practice his newly learned cursive and trying his hand at his own signature
10. A glass of good, dry prosecco
11. (Bonus) Sunshine on any day, hot or cold

Tajja Isen – Contributing Writer

1. Learning to make a great spaghetti bolognese
2. Death Valley National Park
3. Becoming an aunt
4. Dwight Garner’s Grub Street Diet
5. Selling my second book
6. Blue Eye Samurai, which more people need to be watching
7. The bacon, egg, and cheese at my local deli
8. Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag by Sigrid Nunez—so smart, so sharp, and so dishy
9. Planning a road trip across the US
10. A bourbon subscription I got for my husband that was, in truth, a gift for me

Abeer Khan – Social Media Producer

1. Being able to spend as much time as possible with my grandfather during his last few months, surrounded by all of my extended family
2. Going to New York to see Agust D, a member of BTS, live in concert and sitting only a few sections away from Jimin
3. Buying an espresso machine so I can make iced americanos at home
4. Experiencing summer in Toronto with my adorable baby nephews
5. Making cool trinket dishes and figurines out of air-dry clay
6. My Kindle Unlimited subscription
7. Watching Snoopy edits on TikTok (he’s just like me).
8. Staying up until midnight to listen to new solo album releases from BTS members like I’m thirteen years old again.
9. Learning how to cook beyond simple noodle dishes and chicken nuggets
10. Seeing the KAWS exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario with my friends

Siddhesh Inamdar – Copy Editor

1. Clearing the road test and getting my G2 driver’s licence
2. Buying my first car in Canada after a year-long wait. She makes me smile every time I see her. I’m in love, not even kidding.
3. Climbing Umpire Rock in New York’s Central Park with my six-year-old daughter and going on a Ferris wheel with her in London, Ontario
4. Playing Frisbee and sitting by the Thames River (Deshkan Ziibi / Antler River) in London’s Gibbons Park with her and watching ducks float by
5. Being in the outdoor pool in our apartment building with her every other day in summer. Also: going to the beach. Also: cooking meals for her every day (in the interest of space: spending any kind of quality time together)
6. Doing video calls with close friends and family back home
7. Eating momos at Hakka Khazana and authentic Kerala food at Cochin Delights with my family
8. Going for solitary walks in the neighbourhood, plus going back to playing badminton regularly after more than twenty years
9. Watching Only Murders in the Building with my wife, Sex Education, rewatching Modern Family and the original Frasier, and so much more great television
10. Troubling my cat while she sleeps in her chair next to me as I work from home

Ariella Garmaise – Assistant Editor
1. Diet Coke
2. A second-hand Miu Miu purse I found for $6 at Salvation Army
3. Two sketches signed J. Mitchell (could they really be Joni?) also from Salvation Army—a pattern emerges
4. McNally Editions’s rerelease of Ursula Parrott’s 1929 Ex-Wife
5. A short story my friend Aris Mochloulis wrote aptly titled “Toilet Story
6. The Walrus’s first ever launch party at Flying Books for our Fall Books series
7. Todd Haynes’s May December
8. Seeing John Cale in concert at the Parthenon
9. This Nancy Grace interview
10. Feeding my nearly two-year-old niece her first sufganiyot

Makda Mulatu – Digital Journalism Fellow

1. Seeing Beyoncé perform at the Renaissance World Tour in Toronto
2. All the videos of Blue Ivy dancing on the aforementioned tour
3. A joyful but ~chaotic~ trip visiting my extended family in the eastern US for the first time since pre-pandemic days. I hopped between DC, NY, NJ, and PA in a week and a half.
4. The food at this Ethiopian chicken house in Philly, which I’m still dreaming about six months later
5. While we’re on the subject of good eats, let’s throw this pasta dish on the list, too.
6. One of my oldest friends asking me to be the maid of honour in her wedding
7. Taking a road trip to Canmore. It was my first time in the mountains in autumn, and the colours were beautiful.
8. Ayo Edebiri in basically everything she’s starred in this year
9. RAYE’s live performance of her album My 21st Century Blues at the Royal Albert Hall. The whole thing is great but this song in particular is *chef’s kiss.*
10. Summer reading in parks, especially enjoyable for me in 2023 because I ended up reading two of my favourite books of the year while outdoors: Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You and Megan Fernandes’ I Do Everything I’m Told

Simran Singh – Event Manager

1. Solo travelling to Colombia and making new friends
2. Enjoying the concerts post-pandemic
3. Going to the Renaissance World Tour and seeing Beyoncé perform live for the first time.
4. Starting a new adventure at The Walrus from Digital to Events
5. Prioritizing my health with mindful eating and exercise
6. Celebrating milestones with friends and family
7. Reconnecting with distant relatives
8. Going to Vancouver with the team for The Walrus Talks Equitable Housing
9. Trying new recipes and cooking for my loved ones
10. Almond croissants

Dhriti Gupta – Editorial Fellow

1. Reading and telling everyone I know to read How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler
2. Realizing Stanley Tucci was ten minutes away from our hotel in Rome while visiting Italy (CNN’s Searching for Italy changed my family’s life, actually)
3. Sarindar Dhaliwal’s beautiful exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, When I grow up I want to be a namer of paint colours
4. Caroline Polachek’s unreal live vocals at her Queen Elizabeth Theatre show
5. Making recipes from Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi
6. Watching Polite Society (2023, dir. Nida Manzoor), a movie about two wacky brown sisters, with my wacky brown sister
7. Finding the perfect, coziest blue sweater at Uniqlo
8. Witnessing the cutest interaction at the pharmacy, where this guy who was picking up his medication sang a little song about it and the pharm tech danced to his tune
9. Listening to sad, old-timey honky tonk ballads and wishing more artists would use pedal steel only for MITSKI (who we all thought was going to retire forever) to release an album of sad, old-timey honky tonk ballads, full of pedal steel.
10. Everything about this New York Magazine cover story on the iconic trio behind Bottoms (2023, dir. Emma Seligman)

Claire Cooper – Managing Editor

1. Driving along the Lighthouse Route of Nova Scotia’s south shore on a sunny July afternoon
2. A sleepover with my sister after the Beyoncé concert
3. Seeing Beck with friends on Labour Day weekend, the perfect end to summer with the Ex blinking in the background
4. Watching Platonic and feeling like someone made the show just for me
5. Officially handing over all lunch-making duties to my kids, mornings have never been better
6. Laughing my head off while riding the very terrifying (but super fun) Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland
7. Making it through a ten-hour day at Disney World without losing either of my kids (no easy feat!!)
8. Seeing a picture of my nephew on his first day of junior kindergarten, after he wrapped up his treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma
9. The longer than usual peach season this summer
10. Learning to like eggplant

Monita Mohan – Marketing Manager

1. Watching Darren Hayes live in concert for the first time
2. Finding a Kibo Sushi near my place
3. After pining over it for three years, I finally bought the PS5
4. And finally playing Ghost of Tsushima on said PS5 after hearing so many great things about the game for so long
5. Writing two articles for HuffPost
6. Reorganizing my apartment to make it more homely
7. Reading The Test by Sylvain Neuvel—it’s not a joyful book, but it’s brilliant
8. Marvel movies—Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Marvels
9. Loki season two
10. Following an impromptu two-year hiatus, restarting the Stereo Geeks podcast with my twin

Allison Baker – Head of Research

1. Travelling to Los Angeles to see Floating Points (Sam Shepherd) and the LA Philharmonic (along with many special guests, including Sun Ra Arkestra) pay homage to Pharaoh Sanders and play the Promises album in its entirety at the Hollywood Bowl. Despite the thousands of people in attendance, you could hear a pin drop—and the crickets in the Hollywood Hills.
2. Waking up with the sun to ride from Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts to Montreal along the P’tit Train du Nord bike path
3. André 3000’s New Blue Sun, specifically “Ants To You, Gods To Who?”
4. Reading forty-five books (so far) this year. (The Water Statues by Fleur Jaeggy and How to Be Both by Ali Smith are two notable ones.)
5. Moshing for the first time since the pandemic at a 100 gecs show. Ridiculously sweaty; ridiculously joyous.
6. Being invited to this year’s Michener Awards at Rideau Hall to be recognized for the Truth in Journalism Project alongside co-creator and dear friend Viviane Fairbank
7. Seeing Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense on the big screen—twice.
8. Fred again..’s NPR Tiny Desk concert
9. Playing pool for free at Brasserie Beaubien in Montreal’s Mile End while eating a slice of Pizza Bouquet’s anchovy pizza. Sublime.
10. Something that brings me joy every year? The “I smell like beef” baby.

Colby Payne – Editorial Fellow

1. Listening to Hounds of Love by Kate Bush on a train filled with happy chatter through the moors in England
2. Two delicious drinks: freshly-squeezed orange juice in Portugal, and a very decadent hot chocolate from Uplands Roast in the Meadows in Edinburgh
3. The Double Threat podcast
4. My sister and I going to the fair for the first time ever, and singing terribly to distract ourselves from our terror while waiting for the zipper ride to start moving (and also every other moment I spent with my family and friends and my beloved cat, Finnick)
5. Seeing Cabaret and ABBA Voyage in London
6. “Dumbest Girl Alive” by 100 gecs
7. Every movie I saw in theatres this year, especially Fallen Leaves (dir. Aki Kaurismäki), May December (dir. Todd Haynes) The Fabelmans (dir. Steven Spielberg), the Stop Making Sense 4K restoration (dir. Jonathan Demme), and Titanic (dir. James Cameron)
8. Getting my first three tattoos
9. David Ehrlich’s “25 Best Films of 2022” video compilation
10. Running 10K for the first time—or eating copious amounts of Ritz crackers and watching The X-Files in the middle of the night—both brought me great joy!

Rose Danen – Development Officer

1. The Behind The Bastards podcast, specifically the six-part crossover series about Henry Kissinger with The Dollop
2. The last (sadly) season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
3. Getting to experience pure feminine queer joy, sitting in a circle on the pavement with a bunch of strangers in the middle of a concert crowd at the Lavender Wild music festival in Toronto
4. This “F*ck Me Now” chicken recipe. Life changing.
5. This gochujang mac and cheese recipe. Also life changing.
6. Dressing up with my partner as Beetlejuice and Lydia Deetz for Halloween
7. My ever-growing sticker collection that is quickly filling up the frame of my mirror
8. The garden boxes in my backyard that I built with my dad this spring
9. The song “Makeba” by Jain
10. Getting to build a home with my partner where our friends can gather, feel safe, share meals, and make memories.

Connor Garel – Writer-in-residence

1. The launch party at Standard Time for MONEYPHONE’s World Peace Inside Me, a brilliant dance album by my brilliant friends
2. Sitting front row, with my best friend, at The Guide to Being Fabulous, a play written by and starring Sandra Caldwell at Soulpepper Theatre (and watching my friend get called up on stage to walk the runway!)
3. A romantic picnic at Riverdale Park just before sunset, complete with homemade cocktails and pistachio ice cream (a highly underrated flavour)
4. Brandon Taylor’s raunchy, unforgettable The Late Americans
5. Profiling Azealia Banks, one of our greatest and most provocative living artists
6. Teyana Taylor’s performance in A. V. Rockwell’s A Thousand and One because sometimes a film that breaks your heart can also be a source of joy, and remind you of the possibilities of a film
7. Finally starting a relatively unknown masterpiece called The Sopranos, and then reaching the hilarious line: “Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this.”
8. The World AIDS Day Ball at History in Toronto, organized by FUNCTION
9. The parade of concerts I attended with friends—Little Simz, Yves Tumor, Nourished by Time—but specifically Kelela, whom I saw three times this year!
10. Being asked by my cousin to officiate her wedding (which will also, incidentally, be the first wedding I ever attend)

Mihira Lakshman – Director, The Walrus Lab

1. Playing in a Suzuki violin concert with my son at a summer camp
2. Discovering new hazy New England IPAs from local breweries
3. My first concert with the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra
4. Watching my son learn how to hit a baseball and catch a pop fly. And hearing about it from another coach after I missed a game:)
5. Annual summer trip to Saskatoon
6. Hiking the Sooke Potholes on Vancouver Island and enjoying a pint on a brewery patio.
7. Playing tennis with an old friend, followed by grilling a steak, and watching sports and taking turns picking our favourite episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
8. Family trip to a Roughriders game in Regina and seeing the joy on the kids’s faces when they got on the big screen.
9. Going to Buffalo to see the Wild Symphony and a family dinner at Anchor Bar.
10. Road biking in the warm weather.

The Walrus Staff
Cornelia Li
Cornelia Li is a Toronto-based illustrator whose clients have included the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Reader’s Digest.