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Happy 2021!

A Year in Review Despite the challenges of 2020, we look back on the beautiful, good and joyous from this past year By Abigail Thorpe

Photo by Lorna Holt

Happy 2021! With a deep breath of thankfulness, we welcome in a new year, full of hope and optimism. For many (if not all of us), 2020 came at us deceptively sweet, and then threw a storm our way. From the worry of a world-wide pandemic, to the uncertainty of keeping businesses open and continuing to work, to concern for our family and friends—not to mention “murder hornets,” quarantines and stay-at-home orders, huge market fluxes and an election that was anything but subdued—2020 wasn’t anything we could have expected.

But in the midst of the craziness, I hope for everyone there were some bright moments of joy that showed through—the silver lining so to speak. To highlight the good that 2020 brought despite the hardship, we asked locals to send us pictures of the things that brought them joy in the year. From puppies to stunning vistas, to enjoying the great outdoors we are privileged to call home, there were many moments and things to be thankful for in 2020.

We are lucky to live in Sandpoint, where the pandemic showed us that we truly are neighbors, and where people are still eager to lend a helping hand. If we learned one thing this year, hopefully it’s that we are better together than alone. From food drives to the incredible support many showed small businesses, this year brought out the best in so many, and reminded us that the most important thing is caring for others.

Wherever you looked, there was a ray of light to be found. Many in the community volunteered their time and resources to make and pass out masks to individuals and businesses to help keep the community safe, and so many individuals volunteered to shop for others, or showed up with food, necessities and other goods for those in need.

Business owners did their best to care for employees during the hard times, and nonprofits hard hit by the pandemic continued to provide what help they could. While we may say good riddance to 2020, let’s reflect with joy and thankfulness on all of the many heroes throughout the year who gave, showed up and helped—this past year brought the heart of Sandpoint out in full force.

While the rest of the world closed down, Sandpointers took the opportunity to embrace the great outdoors we’re so blessed to live in. The pandemic may have paused our social and event calendars, but it opened up an opportunity for many to stop, breathe in the fresh air, and head to the lakes, rivers and mountains for some adventure and release.

“Hikes to some of our beautiful lakes helped keep us sane during this chaotic year,” reflects Lorna Holt, whose picture of a quiet moment fishing describes perfectly the peace and joy many found in the outdoors this past year. “Fishing, photography, reading, time in nature—(it’s) heaven on earth to me!”

Living on Idaho’s largest lake has its perks. Throughout the summer, locals and visitors alike flocked to Lake Pend Oreille for boating, swimming, kayaking and other opportunities that even COVID couldn’t cancel. The sun still shone, and opportunities for fun abounded—even if it was the socially distanced kind.

In July, Comet NEOWISE made a rare appearance—its only for the next 6,800 years. From our quiet, country location, we were able to see it with the naked eye, just after sunset, below the Big Dipper. For those of us who caught a glimpse, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that didn’t depend on what was happening here on earth.

Come October, the snow flurries came early, and we bundled up in expectation of a cold and snowy winter ahead. Following a day of storms, Sara Glader snapped a picture of Oden Bay bathed in ethereal light. “The light off the clouds above Lake Pend Oreille was too perfect to pass up. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and the sunset that night was a good reminder to look up and take in the beauty that surrounds us every day,” she says.

Despite the cold, many bundled up and headed out to enjoy the beauty of the season covered in its first snow. Holt took in the view from Burton’s Peak Lookout, enjoying the first snowfall surrounded by the peace of nature, stunning views of the valley below, and an icy cold that still managed to bring with it some joy and expectation of a Sandpoint favorite pastime: skiing at Schweitzer.

The mountain opened as we all celebrated a grateful—yet somewhat smaller—Thanksgiving. And though it may not have looked like those of years past—many of our friends and loved ones were forced to celebrate alone or in another town or state—for many, the holiday was a chance to focus on the good this year has brought, let go of the bad, and look forward to a new season.

From hiking our beautiful mountains and enjoying the pristine lakes and rivers, to swishing down the slopes, we were still able to take advantage of the incredible area we live in. And for many, 2020 was a time of reflection, and a time to grow close to a tight circle of friends or family who helped us make it through the year.

The pandemic prevented many from seeing some of those dearest to them, due to health concerns and the desire to protect others, yet in some ways it also served to bring people closer together. Our social circles shrunk, and as a result we were forced to be more intentional.

We had more time to spend with those closest to us, and we figured out ways to stay connected to those far away. Marriages and births still lit the faces of friends and family with joy, even if it was over Zoom.

And if the pandemic delivered one good thing, it was the opportunity to take advantage of the time at home to add a new little fur member to the family. Karenmarie Moran’s “Pandemic Puppies” shown here were born during COVID and delivered plenty of smiles, laughter and joy with their arrival.

Eleven people took advantage of being home more to add a puppy from Sandpoint to their household,” says Moran. “It is difficult not to be positive with a face like this looking at you.”

As the Christmas season approached, our small town lit up with cheer and beauty to brighten our spirits during a year that has been more than a little strange. Santa still made his annual visit, and our beloved local events like the Kinderhaven Festival of Trees found new ways to continue the tradition and cheer, spreading throughout town to light the interiors of many local stores, and reminding us all that there are many who can use a touch of joy, love, hope and a helping hand, if we’ll take the time to notice.

In the moment they may have seemed like small things—finally having the time to garden, learning to play a new instrument, writing that long-overdue note to Grandma—but they are the moments and images that made 2020 a year to be thankful for.

May we always be thankful for the place we live and the people who make it home. Wishing everyone a happy New Year filled with joy, good health and the anticipation of more incredible memories.

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