Years from now, how will you remember 2020?

Will you look upon it with anger for its impact on your life — and perhaps your livelihood — or will you look upon it in gratitude as a survivor? Will you lament the opportunities lost, or rejoice in the opportunities given?

Will you let your life return to one that revolves around the almighty dollar, or have you changed by the realization that life is precious, that faith, family and friendships are incredibly important, and that even the most basic of things — a smile not hidden by a mask — can brighten someone’s day?

Take away our stance on mask mandates, statewide pauses and, most certainly, politics, and we are the most basic of humans who hurt when those around us hurt, who rejoice when others rejoice, and who just want to leave this life knowing that somehow, in some way, our life mattered to someone.

The year 2020 brought with it so much extra time for families with kids, yet, for many others, the year signifies the loss of precious minutes with those we love. Some will claim we were separated by fear, others will claim it was because of love — because the evidence is in the science. This is a virus that kills, that unfairly affects some more than others, that has taken a toll, in some way, on every single one of us.

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Yes, 2020 brought with it losses we will never get back, from graduation ceremonies and sports championships for our youths, to lost wages and shuttered businesses. Might you also consider the joys this year delivered? The graduation parades with cheering crowds, the games that could be played, the economic stimulus payments, the time to complete home projects, read a book or spend time at the lake — these, and so much more, are the things we can be grateful for.

Even if you’re just happy to have awoken this morning, that’s a start. For those who have lost someone close to them, it can be difficult, particularly around Christmas, to find something to celebrate.

When my dad died two years ago, a couple of friends shared a poem with me. By “Author Unknown” — as so many well-written pieces are — it brought me comfort. This year, with people in our communities mourning the loss of a loved one, I share this with you.

My first Christmas in Heaven

Author Unknown

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below.

With tiny lights like Heaven’s stairs reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tears,

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear.

But the music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart.

But I am not so far away — We really aren’t apart.

So, be happy for me, Dear Ones, You know I hold you dear.

Be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear,

Because I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.