As 2020 begins to wind down, Rachael Ray is reflecting on what she’s learned following a difficult year.
In the editor’s letter for the Rachael Ray In Season holiday issue, the celebrity chef, 52, opened up about some of the experiences she’s gone through, including losing her New York home over the summer in a devastating fire.
“This year has been strange for us all,” Ray wrote. “But 2020 has also made me more mindful than ever of just how lucky I am.”
“Over the last 12 months, in addition to witnessing the crises that have gripped our country, I lost my dog of 15 years, then lost my home to a fire."
Despite the devastating incident, Ray gained a deep sense of appreciation for her life. "I’m grateful to the first responders who saved my life. I’m grateful for the opportunity to rebuild. I’m grateful I had a place to stay when my world caught fire, where I could take sanctuary, and that I learned, in a way I hadn’t really understood before, the difference between a house and a home," she wrote.
“We can all fall into a place where we take for granted things we should be grateful for. When you lose them, you understand their value in a more complete and meaningful way,” she continued. “In an odd way, it enriches you.”
The Christmas season will also be different for Ray, who typically goes all out with her decorations.
“I didn’t know when we started working on this issue that by the time we were done my life would be filled with so much loss,” Ray, who has been living in her guest house with her husband John Cusimano, wrote. “I won’t be able to put up my nine Christmas trees this year. I won’t have the woodland creatures one, with ornaments I’d collected over decades, or the felt tree that children loved, with elves climbing its branches and a bright crocheted tree skirt.”
“For most of us, this holiday will involve sacrifices and compromises. But this magazine represents all the ways we can still celebrate each other, our families, and ourselves,” she added. “I can’t say I’m not happy that 2020 is coming to an end. Maybe you feel a bit that way, too? What I can say is that I’m happy I’m here and that you are, too, and that 2021, I truly believe, could be our collective best year ever.”
In September, Ray opened up about the catastrophic fire on The Rachael Ray Show.
"On August 9th, my house burned," she said. "15 years of memories; 40 years of notebooks, drawings, thoughts, my life's work.”
The following day, Ray and Cusimano returned to their home to witness the aftermath of the destruction — finding that neither their personal belongings, nor the home’s famed kitchen, had survived the blaze.
Following news of the blaze in August, Ray expressed gratitude to not only the firefighters who helped extinguish the flames, but also for being able to safely escape with her family. "We’re all okay,” she wrote at the time. “"These are the days we all have to be grateful for what we have, not what we’ve lost.”
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