What Brought You Joy This Year?

A swirly background in blues, oranges, and golds. The words HOLIDAYS 2022 are on torn gold paper, along with the Autostraddle logo.

Holigays 2022 // Header by Viv Le

Hello friends! It’s that time of year! Specifically, the end of it. I wanted to publish a New Year’s Eve Roundtable and Open Thread Situation so we can all reflect on the past 365 days together and take a deep breath before we dive into The New Year.

This year, I asked our writers to focus on the joyous, the lighthearted, the fun, the easy. Life is really hard, but we all deserve joy and sometimes we need a reminder to focus on the joyful moments we’ve experienced.

I asked the Autostraddle Team to share something that made them smile or laugh in 2022, and here’s what we came up with. I’d love you to join us in the comment section and share what made you smile or laugh in 2022, too.

We did it! We made it to the end of the year! I’m raising a glass to the things that brought us joy this year, and I’m welcoming in even more joy into our lives in 2023. Thanks for being here — we love you for forever.


Vanessa & The Autostraddle Team

Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor

Honestly, no one makes me laugh like Zucchini Arson Friedman. Sure, sometimes he poops on the carpet (in protest when we leave him home alone), and he holds more anxiety in his tiny 14 pound body than every anxiously attached queer in Portland combined, but he’s also sweet and funny and WEIRD and loving and silly and LOOK AT HIS LITTLE TONGUE. I’m writing this while sitting in a laundromat washing our dining room rug because he pooped on it AGAIN yesterday and I finally said “THIS THING NEEDS TO BE WASHED, GOOD GOD” and I still count him as the #1 thing that brought me joy and smiles all year, which I think speaks for itself.

a tiny black dog with his tongue sticking out basks in the sun

Heather Hogan, Senior Writer + Editor

The thing that has made me laugh the most this year — no question — is Abbott Elementary. The only show that has ever made me laugh as consistently as Abbott is Golden Girls, and friends, that is saying something. Abbott is not like a laugh every few episodes show, either. Or, like, funny but not in a laughing way. I’m talking ‘pause it because I’m cry-laughing so hard I can’t hear the dialogue’ guffawing every single episode. Ava’s scams, Janine’s pratfalls, Barbara’s righteous outrage, Melissa’s dirtbaggery. I think the funniest thing I saw all year was when Jacob’s boyfriend came to school and Ava went “BLACK?” and he said “It’s Zack, actually.” Actually, you know what, just every single line out of Ava’s mouth.

Ro White, Sex & Dating Editor

I call funny animal videos my “DIY SSRI.” 2022 has been a tough year, so of course I’ve been up to my ears in animal content on a near-daily basis. That TikTok video of the owl coming out of anesthesia probably made me laugh the most. I wish I could explain why.

I also love a good queer meme, and people have been sending me that one “lesbian couples be like meme” with Jessica Rabbit and Roger Rabbit all damn year, and buds, I KNOW! I KNOW WHICH ONE I AM! SO YOU CAN STOP SENDING ME THIS MEME! At least it makes me laugh every time I see it (I don’t know who the original creator is, so if you’re out there, thank you!). Maybe 2023 will be the year I proudly claim my Roger Rabbit energy.

a meme that says "lesbian couples be like" and then shows one image of jessica rabbit and one image of roger rabbit side by side

Nico , A+ Director

This video of Mya represents a time that brought me so many smiles. This year, we lost Mya in July, but back in May, when she was still squeezing the last drops out of life, we took a road trip to visit some friends of Sadie’s and mine in the Poconos. It was also during a heat wave, so someone suggested we take Mya down to the creek that runs just by their house. She got in, and the first time, got swept out a little too far, and I had to get in and help her back out. After that, though, she was not deterred. She returned to the creek, got back in, spent some time sitting and lapping at the water, and when she was ready to get out, emerged all by herself. The little proud hop in her step as we walked away from the creek told me everything I needed to know — she was happy that she had done it herself, that, fiercely independent and adventurous as always, she had managed the task. We knew at the time that we were getting toward the end, and I’m really grateful we had the chance and took care to make some more memories with Mya before our time with her ran out.

Darcy , Writer

2021 was a rough year for us all, and it’s also the year I lost my beloved dog of 14 years, Cyrus. But 2022! In 2022, I had so many reasons to smile, and most of them were because of my dog Milo, the new brother Cyrus never got to meet but would surely approve of.

Milo is a funny little terrier mix with a ballerina’s perfect turnout, scruffy white sideburns, and a friends list about three times longer than my own. He loves every single dog at the park, but his very best friend is probably Possum, a long-legged supermodel of a Village Dog who was so shy when we met her that it could take the better part of an hour for her person to coax her across a field. Cut to now, though, and Milo and Possum are inseparable. Just look at these two adventure friends!!!!

a collage of three photos including the same two sweet puppies playing together

Other things that have made me smile in 2022, in no particular order: this reel. A League of Their Own. Watching Milo play, reciprocally and carefully, with my toddler niblings. This word search. Spending time outdoors, almost every day. And you all! Putting together the Comment Awards is truly the gift that keeps on giving, because Autostraddle readers are a GIFT, and you’re also funny as heck. So thanks for that, fireflies! I love you!

Honestly, lots of things made me smile this year! It was a tough year for me, but there were several bright spots. One was going to NYC Pride with my family and my best friend; we even took her to her first lesbian bar! It was truly one of the best nights we’ve had together, and I’m so happy I made it happen.

Sai and a friend posing together at NYC Pride

My kiddo makes me smile a lot (when he’s not making me bonkers!) but this year, he’s really bloomed into a little musician and it makes me smile every time. He started learning to play the cello this fall and he has taken to it like a fish to water! It brings him so much joy, which subsequently brings me so much joy. I don’t even mind schlepping the cello to school four mornings a week. Being in music class has brought him out of his shell (to a degree) and I can’t wait to see where next year takes him!

Sai's kid posing with their cello, making a peace sign with their fingers, looking cute as ever

Casey , Contributor

My baby Jimena is rapidly becoming a toddler and she makes me laugh and smile every day. The photo I shared was when we went for a walk to the grocery store and she decided that she wanted to push her stroller herself on the way back. Nothing else would do! She has also got really into exploring the house and has figured out how to open one of the cupboards in the kitchen even though it has a child lock on it. One day I looked down while I was chopping some food and saw that she’d gotten out a frying pan and had squeezed her little butt and feet into it and was sitting in it! She has done the same thing with orange boxes too, like she’s a little cat! She gets food all over her face and hair daily (I joke that she has an intensive skin care regime which includes smearing avocado on her face). She is so full of joy and always shares it with her toothy grin and her shrieks of delight and big bear hugs.

Casey's baby Jimena trying to push her own stroller!

Stef Rubino, Writer

Maybe it’s kind of lazy and/or cliche to say, but honestly, it’s the people close to me who make me laugh and smile the most every day. I have to give it up to them because it only seems right. We could be having the most serious conversations of our lives, and my friends and my partner will find a way to make me laugh hysterically. I’m sure most people have this same experience, but I feel really lucky and grateful that I have a ton of loved ones around me who can put a smile on my face no matter what’s going on. The end of this year has been especially rough for me, so their abilities to send me into fits of laughter over the tiniest, dumbest, most absurd shit have come in handier than I ever expected. I’m really looking forward to more absurdity in 2023.


Drew Burnett Gregory, Senior Editor

Sometimes it’s nice to turn your brain off and let an hour pass by on TikTok. I have three friends I regularly send TikToks to and the other night I got high and accidentally sent about twenty videos to all of them. Everything was hitting perfectly. Including this very silly video of someone being handed a banana instead of a phone.

I always feel a little guilty letting time pass on TikTok but honestly?? Laughing at silly things is good!

screenshot of a tiktok video of a woman holding a banana instead of a phone

Niko Stratis, Writer

I don’t watch a lot of new TV but my partner and I started watching Reservation Dogs this year and quickly binged both seasons and holy fuck, what an absolute joy watching that show was. Between that and Abbott Elementary which were just the two funniest things I watched all year. Also being in the bathroom and hearing my partner yell from the main room and getting a text of one of our pets being weird. A combination of all those things are the highlights of smiles from this year. Here’s to many more.


In hindsight the funniest thing that happened to me this year occurred at my day job. We had a Halloween party and I decided to actually come in a costume and wore a blow up frog suit. When I made my grand appearance, I fell onto a cornhole board (???) and bruised the shit out of my knees. The video makes my partner break out into laughter anytime she plays it, so I consider it a win.

a blurry photo of Julie wearing a frog costume on halloween and falling over a corn hole board, titled "halloween frog disaster"

Em Win, Writer

I just looked back at all the photos in my camera roll from the year and I’m realizing… there’s so much to smile about!!! I’m quite a goofy person, so I’ve had many moments of laughter and silliness (thanks to TikTok!) but there’s one moment of pure joy that stands out in my head. Last February, my little cousins went to Disney World for the very first time. I decided to join them for a few days — best decision I made this year. I remember watching my little cousin’s face light up in pure happiness when she saw Tinkerbell fly down from the Magic Kingdom castle during the fireworks. It was as if I was watching a child’s biggest dream come true. It literally brought me to tears. I don’t have a photo of that moment, but please enjoy this photo taken after I agreed to go on a water ride with her 3 times in a row.

Em posing with their cousin at Disney World

Valerie Anne, Writer

This year was a hard one, but looking back there were so many things I loved. Safe Airbnbs with friends, TikToks, TV shows. Video games have been a huge source of comfort for me — playing alone, streaming for friends, or playing Fortnite with friends — but also so has D&D. I haven’t had the chance to PLAY as much D&D this year as I wanted to, but I feel so fortunate that there is so much actual-play D&D content I can enjoy. Critical Role, Dimension 20, Into the Motherlands, Rude Tales of Magic, and my new favorite, Unprepared Casters. Watching (or listening to) friends have fun with each other brings me so much joy, and reminds me of all the fun I’ve had playing with my own friends. Laughter is contagious, and storytelling is magic, and D&D combines those two things seamlessly.

Three characters from Critical Role

Okay, so boom, it’s my birthday as I’m doing this and I’m already lowkey crying from voice notes that people I love and who love me back (ISN’T THAT SHIT WILD?!) and looking at what happened this past year made me more emotional so it’s hard to pick only a few. But, I’d definitely include: meeting my friends online and in physical space, laughing in Zoom with them over terrible movies, watching the people in my life realize they deserve better and grab as much good as they can, and like Valerie, definitely TV shows (movies are included, right?) and memes. Y’all memes save lives, I swear. My two things are: being able to fully be down bad over just about every beautiful person ever because I’m surrounded by friends who like, allow me to be myself and encourage every facet of that wholeheartedly and one of our friends used to say they were built Ford Tough so they weren’t easily moved by stuff and I was like, “I’m jello stable” and you should know that’s just synonymous with being down bad horrendously and I scream about it so much that no one will take me seriously whenever I try to be chill.

a meme with a Spongebob character saying "Down bad today, aren't we?"

The second is my plant, The Importance of Being Ernest. I don’t know what I thought I was getting with her, but I didn’t know she’d grow like this (and still is!), and it makes me laugh because I’m at the front of the house and several people tell me about her and also give me plants because they think I have a green thumb (I do not, I truly believe Poison Ivy sent me this plant).

A.Tony's gorgeous vining plant named The Importance of Being Ernest growing up a huge window


Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Managing Editor

I took a really big step in my relationship this year when I moved to Orlando, my girlfriend’s hometown, with her. I had known for a while Orlando was on the horizon, but once it was finally here, it still felt like a Big Deal — in a way that was both challenging and thrilling. Ultimately, this move has been so healthy for myself and for my relationship. I was nervous about what it might mean to move to a place where my girlfriend has so many roots and where I have none, but it turns out that a lot of her chosen family here are people I also want to be family with. In fact, I’m not sure I ever fully grasped the true meaning of chosen family until being absorbed into this friend group in Orlando. I’ve always loved my friends fiercely, and they’ve always been there for me in tough times, but there’s something about being here in Orlando and part of a friend group that largely has complicated relationships to their actual families that has really amplified the meaning of community care to me. I think a big part of it is seeing how people show up for each other and take care of each other during hurricanes!!!!!! And also the fact that we have to find and create our own safe spaces in a place that can be really unwelcoming and even dangerous for queer folks. Idk, survival means something different here. And maybe this got too heavy for this lighthearted roundtable, but it genuinely makes me so happy to know I have these people here and to know that I too can put down roots in a place that means so so so much to the love of my life.

Kayla kissing Kristen in Orlando

Carmen Phillips, Editor-in-Chief

This year is the year that one of my very best friends, a big brother by choice in adulthood that I never had as an only child, got married. There’s a lot of joy around his marriage, of course, and more than anything two years into a pandemic I was so grateful to be able to (relatively safely) be with the friends that are my family again. But I’m actually here to talk about his bachelor’s party.

His bachelor’s party was in February, but it was important to all of us that we be Covid-safe, so we intentionally picked a location that was warm enough where most of the public activities could be held outside. Austin felt safe — except the day before the weekend was slated to commence, an ice storm ran through Texas. First, over half of us had delayed and canceled flights. Then, when we were finally all together in one place, half of the outdoor breweries we were supposed to go to were closed due to frozen pipes. The rooftop drag brunch we went to was so cold we all had on winter coats and gloves and somehow the place was sold out of actual food, so “brunch” was just tequila? I don’t know, probably a million other things went wrong (this story ends with a water advisory requiring we all boil water for our last night here), but whenever I told the story for weeks after, all I could do was cartoon character heart-eyes smile and laugh?

Like it was objectively, not the trip any of us planned, but it was somehow the perfect trip with my favorite people that I’ll never forget? Easily the highlight of my year.

a screenshot of an Instagram story featuring the top of someone's head wearing a crown, with multiple friends tagged in the photo and the location Austin, Texas tagged too

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  1. i love this thread! this year, i found joy in: friendships old and new; my cat and her absolute brainlessness and adoration of me; working my ass off academically and professionally and seeing immediate results; visiting my grandmother TWICE and collecting more family stories and also hearing her lecture her retirement community neighbors on being open-minded and accepting; embracing all my weirdo hobbies with joy; and reading just so many queer books. truly an astonishing number

  2. I needed this today.

    Some moments of joy:

    Sunrise and sunset walks. My houseplants.

    Starting a full time, permanent (as in not contract) job in April and marveling at how amazing it is to have good benefits and paid days off and other things that should not be so rare in the US. Plus coworkers who aren’t assholes!

    Watching ALOTO and Derry Girls with my spouse.

    One of my 20-something niblings coming out to me as bi and nb at a family reunion this summer (even the part where I responsibly brought up safe sex while mentally going “la la la, shouldn’t you still be playing with dinosaurs and not on hook up apps?”)

  3. Rediscovering that I could be a teacher without dreading every single day.

    Playing DnD with my brother and his kids.

    Joining the Northeast spinoff Discord.

    Abbott Elementary, ALOTO, OFMD, and Matt Rogers’ special “Have You Heard of Christmas.”

  4. Thank you so very much! So this got me thinking and now I’m smiling so here’s a little list:
    1. My new and very first own apartment. Getting to decorate my living space and making it completely mine. I swear everyday when I come home I think “I love my place “. Sometimes I even cancel plans to stay in my apartment.

    2. Getting to visit one of my best friends in another country again and finding that our bond is strong as ever and she is one of the kindest most interesting funniest and most intelligent people on the planet and I’m so grateful and proud of her and she got to meet other friends of mine and it was glorious

    3. Watching baking shows with my mom and really getting into baking and cooking.
    4. FOOD
    5. My best friend and our hours of voice messages
    6. Fleabag and Only Murders in the Building.
    7. Canada, especially maple syrup
    8. Finding friends at uni for the first time and turns out they’re basically my soulmates and we share an array of very specific special interests and are extremely similar and they are very openly loving and there’s no shame, and as Nina Simone says: “I tell you what freedom is to me: no fear. “

  5. My tiny rural English home town of Dursley, Glos had its first Pride this summer. For a kid who grew up in denial about being bi and trans when it was illegal to even mention queer people in school this was amazing and made me cry with joy. To see young (and old) queers so free to be themselves was amazing

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