2020 has made the importance of gratitude more obvious than ever before. Life is fleeting and there are so many things to be grateful for. Each day is a gift. Despite all the chaos the last year has brought in, I have been stable, well-fed, warm and happy. My family and I have stayed healthy and employed. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me the flexibility I need, to not only homeschool my teenaged son, but also to pursue my artistic endeavors and work from home. That has given me a lot more time with my son in general, that I didn’t really have before and we have been taking full advantage of it every day. He has filled my work days with music and laughter. Being at home has also given me more time to provide emotional support to my close friends. I am grateful to have the time to help them as so many people are suffering from mental health issues right now. Even on the hardest days we have endured and I am grateful. Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi

For more than a decade, as a sportswriter and now the sports editor for The Independent and edgewood.news, I have had the pleasure of covering youth and high school sports in the East Mountains and Estancia Valley. I’ve covered many nail-biting games and a few dull ones. I’ve written about the triumphs of youth athletes and their heartbreaking defeats. I’ve watched teams win championship titles or come up a little bit short; and at times—as has been the case for much of this year—I’ve written about practices and workouts from weight rooms to parking lots. But the games, practices and workouts are seldom the story. It’s the people who are the heart and soul of the articles I write. The most rewarding part of what I do, the nucleus that I am always fascinated by and deeply grateful for, is the young athletes who play, the coaches who care enough to teach and inspire, and the athletic directors and league officials who are the mortar that hold all the bricks together—and for some inexplicable reason, they are graciously willing to give me a few moments of their precious time to share their thoughts. We’ll get through these tough times, and sooner or later, we’ll all be back doing what we love. For me, it will be back in the gyms or out on the fields watching the kids play. Ger Demarest

Gratitude is not just a word, but an idea. It means something a little different to everyone, and everyone expresses it differently. Gratitude is about value, but not value by the way of money or cost. To me it is about the value you commit to the gesture, whatever it may be. If it is a person that has done something to enrich your life, it is about valuing that person’s time and effort. When the time comes you hold them as equal, and reciprocate the kindness in whatever way it manifests. If you truly value someone or something it is easy to be grateful for it, because you see it as a privilege, and not a right. You see that you are not entitled to their time or efforts, but instead gifted with them. The cosmic plan should be valued. Show gratitude, because today may have been someone else’s low day. Yet even low days are opportunities for gratitude, because it is usually when we are in the most discomfort we experience the most growth. Joe Lombardi

I could have made a list of everything that I’ve gone through in the last 16 years but I went over it in my head and the list is way too long. I may have been through a lot but my family and friends carried me through and helped to become me a stronger person. I have been able to do things like rediscover my family, find true friendship, fall in love and learn how to live life to the fullest. In the end, I am grateful for the life I have been given. John Richards

Let’s be real: 2020 sucked. I couldn’t name one person that hasn’t suffered. Well, maybe Jeff Bezos hasn’t. Regardless, most people have lost a job, a loved one, or dealt with deteriorating mental health. But for some odd reason, it looks like I’m going to come out fairly unscathed. I’ve managed to keep my jobs and have a steady paycheck all year, I’ve not lost anybody close to me because of Covid, and my mental health is only somewhat out of whack. These simple things I’d take for granted in any other year are the things I’m most grateful for in 2020. I’m thankful to have such an amazing family unit that I can bother relentlessly and friends I can share memes with that understand my humor. I’m thankful for the companionship of my cousins and my two absolutely crazy cats. I’m also thankful for the TikTok app; it’s given me many laughs over the past nine months. Honestly, I’m just thankful this year is almost over. A lot of things will be changing for myself and the rest of the world in the first few months of 2021, and let’s hope it’s happy change, because if it gets any worse, I’d be ready for the aliens to come harvest us and send us to another planet. But then again, I don’t even think the aliens would want us. Felecia Pohl

I like a focus on gratitude. I think about that more and more each year. I have made a habit of each night going over the day’s activities and interactions and being grateful for each positive thing I can think of. And most days are very pleasant and have many events and contacts which I can remember with pleasure. We have so many smooth and easy days that it is easy to take good fortune and pleasant interactions for granted, and to accentuate the rare negative occurrences. But gratitude for all the good events gives me a better perspective on what’s really important. As an example, recently I was hiking in the forest and when I came back to my truck I found the driver’s door window smashed and lying on the ground. The pitiful misguided person had busted into the truck and ransacked everything inside, though he didn’t take anything. I guess he was looking for money, guns, drugs, or something else of value and nothing of the sort was there. I was pretty disappointed and mad to see that damage. But on further consideration, and after replacing the window glass, I decided to view the event differently. Instead of dwelling on the single bad event, I thought of the hundreds of times I had parked and gone on hikes in the last three years, when nothing bad occurred and nobody molested my vehicle. In fact, on virtually every outing I meet with people on the trail who are polite and friendly. Those many good days are what’s really important and acknowledging them puts the single unpleasant event into perspective, overriding its negative impact. I like to try and acknowledge as many of the positive things that I can think of that have happened each day, even to the extent of thinking of the time I’ve spent driving and being grateful for safe travel on the roads. Driving is probably the most dangerous activity I do each day and I am grateful for every day that passes with no road accidents or mishaps. We all have many small and large things to be grateful for each day and I think it is to our benefit to try and be aware of them. James Taulman