Whew! This year (and what a year it was) is finally coming to an end. I don’t know if there is anything magical about the calendar turning a page, but we now have 365 blank pages on which to write new stories. I’m not going to dwell on the sad, except to say many of us have learned (and re-learned) how precious life is. During a recent in-depth, solving-all-the-world’s-problems conversation I had, I remarked that it seemed we spend the first half of our lives making friends, and the latter half bidding them farewell. She remarked how blessed we must be if we have to say good-bye to many friends, because that meant we were rich in the way that matters most. Smart gal, that friend.

In the Coastal Illustrated feature, we take a look back at some of my favorite 2020 stories. I’m amazed and humbled that despite the obstacles presented by this year, we were able to turn out 26 issues full of good information and lots of aspiration and inspiration. Join us as we relive all the fun we were able to enjoy, albeit from a different perspective. We also heard from a few community and business leaders about their hopes and dreams for the upcoming year:

”2020 has put a lot into perspective for all of us … and I’ve truly stepped back to assess what is most important in my life. As I look to 2021, I plan to spend more time with family and with friends … enjoying every moment … because the next one is not promised. I also plan to enjoy the little things in life … because the little things really are the big things.” – Pat Cooper, owner/broker Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate

”As always, my No. 1 goal each year is to take a team full of young men and help build their confidence, shape and mold them into great members of the community, outstanding teammates, and disciplined leaders on and off the field. If I am able to do those things, winning region championships and being in contention for state championships will hopefully take care of itself.

Improve communication. The older I get the more important this one becomes. You don’t know how much time you have with anyone and I don’t want to take for granted that people know how I feel. I’ve been working this year with saying more specifically and deliberately what I think and feel so my family, friends, assistant coaches, and my players and their parents really know me. I want people to hear where I stand, how much I value them, and how important they are to me. I believe that actions speak louder, but I think words are important too.” – Brandon Derrick, head football coach, Frederica Academy

” Our short-term 2021 goal is to keep our store full of furnishings – since our renovation last year we’ve been busy and our vendors have been slow to ship.

Our bigger goal is to serve our customers well and help them create beautiful spaces in their homes, and to serve each other while we do it!”

– Matt Dart, co-owner, Pierce & Parker Interiors

Our beverage columnist, Jim Henderson, drops some recipes for beverages that will help everyone ring in the New Year on a high note, while Cary Knapp, our literary columnist, recommends Bill Buford’s latest culinary memoir – “Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking” (Knopf). Buford, who has previously trained as an Italian chef, has increased his repertoire by learning French cooking, in what some consider the gastronomic capital of the world, Lyon, France.

In Coastal Home, our feature is also New Year’s-centric. Kris Duderstadt, of Krisp Solutions, offers advice on how to organize all those spaces in your home that continue to frustrate and befuddle nearly every homeowner. Her practical tips are easy to accomplish – they just take a little time. Horticulture columnist Anne Ditmer delves into some tricky plant problems and reporter Gordon Jackson wraps up the year with a glowing year-end report from our friends in the real estate business.

Last, but not least, in Shore Things, Cheri Leavy finds a bounty of goodies for the home – from picture frames and mirrors to plants and antique ceramic pottery. Who doesn’t love majolica? Maybe it’s time to freshen a favorite room, and Cheri’s tips will get you there in no time.

As we head into the final holiday of 2020 and the first one of 2021, let me be among the first to wish you a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year. Keep washing those hands, and enjoy the issue!