By anyone’s measure—anywhere on Earth—2020 has been a year to remember. Its status as a meme will be forever unchallenged, though the year has challenged us close to the breaking point. If I hear the word “unprecedented” one more time… And yet it is the right word.

This year, 2020, with its political unrest and violence in the streets, with its global pandemic, with its election, the nastiest in the memory of this reporter, with its ever-changing restrictions and lockdowns, with its public health rules seeming arbitrary and perhaps impossible to enforce, with its appalling lack of common sense and simple decency, 2020 has tried us to the core, and doesn’t seem inclined to let up any time soon.

And now here we are faced with the Christmas holiday, and Hanukkah already underway, with lockdown continuing—and many people at the boiling point of frustration over continuing lines at grocery stores and big boxes even with looser restrictions.

It is easy to fall into despair—especially if you are a front-line healthcare worker, or an essential worker dealing with an irate public all day, or someone personally touched by Covid-19.

In spite of all of that, we have so much to be grateful for, and it’s important to remember to celebrate it, even if our celebrations must take a shape they have never taken before.

We should not underestimate the importance of this moment in history. It will be every bit as impactful to future generations as the world wars of the past, or the Great Depression, and that’s why we should tap into the wells of creativity and resourcefulness that are the hallmark of the human race, and find that joy. And then find ways to share it.

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve watched a hive of worker bees in our communities, who constantly tap in to how folks are doing, and step in to fill a need whenever possible. They don’t make a big deal about it. In fact, they do it year-round, but step things up around the holiday season, mostly for the sake of the kids.

The Moriarty Lions Club adapted its annual toy giveaway this year to a drive-through format, but that didn’t stop Mr. and Mrs. Claus from showing up for the umpteenth time in we don’t know exactly how many decades, because that’s what they do.

In Mountainair, a community-wide effort to light up the whole town with Christmas decorations and take a cruise—what a great idea. It’s Covid-safe, nostalgic, and beautiful, while at the same time being uplifting to the spirit and bringing pride to the townspeople.

I’m grateful to be part of this large regional community, to be part of the network of people to call if you want to help out. The Independent is a small family business, and we appreciate the support from our advertisers and the people who read our pages, both on paper and in pixels. Thank you from all of us.

Food drives, coat and glove trees, toy drives, all of the things that happen every year have happened this year. In Estancia a young chef, like eight years old young, did a toy drive where he traded his homemade sweet rice made from his grandma’s recipe for toys for other children in town. He wanted them to have a nice holiday like he and his family have.

It seems to me that the essence of gratitude is that desire to pay it forward, which is why it’s such a powerful force, and why it’s the theme of our issue this week. We’re hoping to bring you something uplifting and inspirational in these troubling times.

In spite of uncertainty at every turn, we at The Independent are planning some cool stuff for 2021—which will be here any second. Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah, Felíz Navidad, Blessed Solstice, Happy Cold December Day! Whatever you celebrate, I wish you a joyous one.