MPR News

Your very good news in a really bad year

A bride and groom smiling.
In a year filled with bad news, there many bright spots. You told us about the births of new children or grandkids, new jobs, how you reconnected with friends and family, and how you fell in love and got married. Pictured here are Steve and Jenny Ramirez on their wedding day. "The pandemic cancelled our plans to marry on a beach in Hawaii, but our outdoor elopement with only our officiant, two witnesses, and a friend with a camera was even sweeter," Jenny Ramirez shared.
Courtesy of Jenny Ramirez

Most people will probably agree that it's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. 

But this is not a story about all the ills of the year. This is a story about the good that came out of 2020.

We asked you to share something — no matter how big, small or simple — that brought you joy this year. And you delivered, telling us about how you fell in love in 2020, got married, bought houses, had children, started new jobs, reconnected with friends and family — and so much more. 

Can’t get enough good news? MPR News with Angela Davis will feature more joyful news in an upcoming episode.  

Note: Some of these responses have been edited for length. 

You fell in love and got married

“We got married on the most beautiful evening of the summer. The pandemic cancelled our plans to marry on a beach in Hawaii, but our outdoor elopement with only our officiant, two witnesses, and a friend with a camera was even sweeter.” — Jenny Ramirez 

“I tragically lost my husband and best friend in 2019, and his high school friend volunteered to come help me a few times at my house preparing for my son’s grad party and with a tree that went down in a storm. He was served divorce papers within 24 hours of me losing my husband. Long story short, Matt and I fell in love in 2020 and got engaged in August!” — Holly Benson

Holly Benson and her fiance, Matt Christenson, got engaged in August.

You said hello to new family members

“I gave birth to my son on Thanksgiving day this year. Seeing his big sister tiptoe into the room to meet him brought so much joy.” — Caitlin Rogers

I had my first baby, a boy named Noah, on January 4th of this year. Amid all the difficulty of the year, Noah remains blissfully unaware and brings us into his bubble of joy as he learns to roll, crawl, sit, walk, stand, babble, and ferociously yell 'CAAAAP' (cat) while chasing our cat, Jude, around the house. He's the comedic relief we never knew we'd need so badly.” — Kayla Meyers

Hannah Geere adopted Lupe, a Chihuahua from Puerto Rico, this year.

“I adopted my pride and joy, Lupe the chihuahua from Puerto Rico. She was a stray after the earthquakes last year. In February it will be one year of being together. For the past 4 years, all I’ve wanted was a dog, and I got the best one finally this year.” — Hannah Geere

“After nearly 3 years of infertility, two rounds of IVF, preeclampsia, and a tough birth, we welcomed our daughter to the world on November 6th. We are both safe and healthy, and she is the light of our life.” — Liza Henry

You spent quality time with your loved ones

“[S]pending more time at home with my four dogs — they LOVE the work from home set up!” — Kristina Chien

“Our son, and only child, started middle school this year. While he misses being with friends, my husband and I have enjoyed this ‘bonus year’ of childhood. In a year we expected to be filled with 7th grade angst, we got good conversations, lots of hugs and little drama. We feel extra close and cozy as a family this year.” — Allison Thrash

From left, the Thrash family: Jae Yoon, Allison and Zan. "We feel extra close and cozy as a family this year," Allison Thrash shared.

“One of my sons wanted to improve his reading comprehension. We’re big Harry Potter fans at our house, so he decided to read the first book in the series out loud. Because the schools have been doing distance learning, my older son doesn’t have to leave early for school. He’s been listening to his younger brother read most mornings. My older son asks his brother questions to make sure he’s understanding the book. It has brought me so much joy to hear them sharing a beloved book together, strengthen their friendship, and watch my younger son develop a love of reading.” — Julie Rowse

“[M]y husband and I can’t help but see how hard we both work all day, every day, and we have found so much more appreciation for one another. We can now go for mid-day walks in the sunshine with our kids, help them through tough school assignments, and snuggle them any time they feel sad about not being able to play with their friends or go to school.” — Becky Cline

“During quarantine, we completed our first family jigsaw puzzle and spent Sunday afternoons writing letters to people. Every Saturday we got take out from a local restaurant and often ate in the back of our pick up truck in the parking lot. We called it a ‘trucknic’ and we would end the outing with a game of tag in a quiet corner of the parking lot.” — Tory Brogan

You got outside — a lot

“I've been exploring our state parks this year, and they're beautiful! I'd never been to any of them before this summer.” — Katie Furr

“Going on hikes with my two girls. Before this year, it was difficult to convince the kids to go for a walk. Instead they wanted to visit the various indoor play areas. So this year we spent more time outdoors and we really enjoyed it.” — Hiba Al-Zahawi

Hiba Al-Zahawi and her two daughters on one of their outdoor walks this year.

“I spent so much extra time with my kids outdoors, which is exactly what I've always said I wanted more time to do. Two kids moved from training wheels to two wheelers and their confidence soared. The younger two now fit in our bike trailer and we spent the spring and summer taking hours long bike rides to explore our neighborhood. We'd pack lunch, snacks, and a picnic blanket and go until we were tired. It was wonderful!” — Beth Kluge

“We got a state parks permit for the first time this year and have visited 16 state parks and counting in 2020. My 8-year-old and 11-year old have discovered the joys of the woods — climbing trees, jumping across stones over a river, swimming in Lake Superior, climbing behind waterfalls.” — Annette Luther

Annette Luther and her family got a state parks permit for the first time this year and have visited 16 state parks so far. Her 8-year-old and 11-year old have discovered the joys of the great outdoors.

You made new connections, or reconnected with acquaintances

“If not for the pandemic, I wouldn't have reconnected with an old friend halfway across the country via a video-messaging chat, which we use to share sunrises, sunsets, and challenges and joys of the day in real-time. I couldn't do that from the office.” — Susan Morgan

“[W]e've been able to celebrate so many events through video chat, from weekend get togethers to a wedding. While celebrating virtually isn't ideal, it does allow for people all over the country to participate in things like a niece's 8th birthday. Further, I believe I've become closer to my far-flung family because we prioritize frequent online gatherings and we wouldn't have done that if we were busy with normal life and had the possibility of visiting in person a couple of times a year.” — Rita Busam

“For the great majority of this pandemic I have been working on jigsaw puzzles in the commons/craft room of my apartment building. As a result, I have become dear friends with Janice, a neighbor on the second floor. So many of us have been separated from friends and family by this virus but I am fortunate to have made a new and lasting friendship with my 80-something neighbor.” — Anna Lucas

You got creative

Laurel Vollmer Heers and her family made their own aprons and kettle to continue their tradition of bell-ringing for the Salvation Army.

“Since there was no Back to the 50’s car show, we did our own at home version (including making Sweet Martha’s cookies from the freezer section). We created a socially distanced Treasure Adventure with clues that took friends and neighbors around town and ended at a treasure chest in our front yard. We made a pinball game themed ramp to distribute candy safely at Halloween. We made our own aprons and kettle set up to take our family tradition of bell ringing for the Salvation Army virtual.” — Laurel Vollmer Heers

"As the artistic director of Really Spicy Opera, I returned from our performing tour to Paris in January 2020 to see every single scheduled performance for the rest of the year cancelled. However, there was most definitely a silver lining. ... Together [with Vienna-based soprano Anne Wieben and Seattle-based soprano Tess Altiveros], we started an online opera-writing program called the Aria Institute that trains composers and librettists to write opera from the ground up. … We're now on our third installment and already seeing our composers and librettists getting performances of works written for the Aria Institute!" — Basil Considine

“Our block has started doing ‘Poetry Afoot.’ We take turns choosing a poem, and each participating neighbor puts a line or two in their window. Then, as people stroll down the block, they can read the whole poem.” — Megan Unger

'Poetry Afoot' video

“At 66, I found a new passion, birdwatching, that’s become a new focus for my photography hobby. I’m delighted by birds that come to my feeder and excitedly discovering local birding hotspots through birding apps. I’ve even participated in worldwide birding competition and was named ‘rookie of the year’ last spring.” — Beth Potter

You accomplished major feats 

“My 5 year old twins learned to read, and my husband and I taught them!” — Amy Anderson

“[W]e paid off the mortgage in 2020!” — Elena Dooley

“I published my debut middle-grade novel ‘What If a Fish!’”  — Anika Fajardo

“Paid off my student loans!” — Patrick Otis

And you showed there’s goodness in the world

Meghan Dingmann's daughter, Aubrey, created paper snowflakes with the words "Thank You" on them.

“We’ve been focusing on gratitude and counting our blessings daily at our house, and imparting this on our daughters, Sophia (9) and Aubrey (7). [On a recent day] I told my girls we were going to run some errands since I had some curbside pick-ups scheduled — before leaving the house Aubrey rushed to work on an art project. She showed me a handful of little paper snowflakes she made, all with the word ‘Thank You’ on them. … We left these in the hands of employees at three businesses in town.” — Meghan Dingmann