In search of moments of light, we found solace in rescue animals, banana bread and – for the messy among us – the joy of not tidying up. We watched a lot of television, some excellent. We cooked and cooked and cooked (see below) – and then ordered to take away. Sometimes we just played The Sims 4.

Readers also told us about their silver lining. “I am grateful to be grateful,” wrote one.

Love in the time of Covid: The essays that appear in Modern Love usually don’t reflect the current news cycle. But during months of lockdown, people found love, resilience, and sometimes just clarity in hard and hopeless places.

The pandemic pulled people together even though it was pushing them apart. (Our colleagues from The Morning even helped arrange engagement.)

A highlight: on the border between Germany and Denmark, two lovers found a romantic way to (almost) stay in contact in the eighties. She brings the coffee, he brings the schnapps.

Resilience: “Winter is a primal time of death and loss and a time of grief, ”wrote Elizabeth Dias, a national reporter. “It reminds us that darkness, not just light, is part of the repeating rhythm of what it means to be human.”

The best of: Wonderful films. Special children’s books. Albums worth celebrating. Our critics and editors have compiled lists of the “best” of almost everything: classical music, books, songs, theater, dance, podcasts, jazz.

And while Oxford couldn’t quite get away with one word of the year, Joe Biden may have come up with the perfect phrase: inshallah.

Your morning briefing is aimed at getting you up to speed quickly, rounding up the biggest headlines and looking forward to the top stories The Times covered that day.

But many of the year’s most popular pieces weren’t part of the often busy news cycle. you are Articles of human interest, sometimes with a hint of mystery. For example:

In 2020, three huge stories – a pandemic, an election, and a reckoning on racial justice – dominated the headlines. (See the year in pictures for a recap of all three.) But other subjects, significant or otherwise, were sometimes swept up in the news.

Here are seven stories you might have passed by:

This year the world lost more than 1.7 million people to the coronavirus, with more than 300,000 deaths in the United States alone.

The Times tried to tell the stories behind the numbers with our “We Lost” series, which reminded parents, children, dedicated frontline workers and people who previously survived the Holocaust, Spanish Flu and other tragedies .

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others in the US have broken hearts and sparked protests for racial justice around the world.

We also remembered and celebrated people whose lives history helped shape. Here are some for the ages:

Those left behind: Five Americans shared the stories of people they had lost to the pandemic – not to think about their deaths, but to celebrate how they lived. And one writer mourning the loss of his 29-year-old best friend to the coronavirus described the feeling of being ruined by a perfect love. “I’m better because of it,” he writes.

No longer overlooked: In our series of notable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times, we recalled a landmark adult comic book writer, an honored suffragist, and the “Real Aunt Jemima” among many others.

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