It's that time of the year when columnists give out awards for the year, write their "best of" lists and otherwise wrap up the year in 700 words or less.
It can be nice to read something that puts the year in perspective or provides you with a shortlist of what was a cut above. I always appreciate a list of someone's best movies, best TV shows, best books or best albums.
In that spirit, I had been mulling over different lists I could compile for the year. Best and worst columnists of the year perhaps? Or the best on Netflix?
I considered some tongue-in-cheek awards to our New Zealand politicians. But then I thought enough words get expended on them. They're not the centre of the universe.
Which led me to think about what really made 2020 stand out.
Hands down, the game-changer this year was a virus named after the previous year, Covid-19.
There's little that hasn't been touched in some way by Covid.
Yet I'm not going to single out a simple-celled organism for pre-eminence in 2020. As a rule, I prefer to give weight to humanity's achievements.
I can't give humanity full marks, however. Globally, our response to Covid has been mixed, and the issue of who gets the vaccine and who doesn't (rich countries before poor countries) is a looming disaster.
And so, neither Covid-19 nor humanity is getting my supreme award. I'm going to go even bigger, more abstract, and give my nomination for game-changer of the year to … change itself.
Reflecting on this year, I've realised how important it is to be able to accept a fundamental truth of life, of human society, of the natural world, and the universe itself.
Things don't stay the same, and they never can. Change is the one constant.
When it comes to our lives, or the society we live in, we can prefer things to stay the same. And if there's change we want it to be of the kind that benefits us, or fits with our worldview, cultural values and politics.
Since none of us can ever be supreme tyrants of our own world, let alone anyone else's, this isn't going to happen. Therefore, it's our attitude to things changing that often has to change.
Through the year I've been contemplating an idea I've become familiar with through reading about Buddhist philosophies.
A core principle that struck me is to distinguish between enjoying something, finding pleasure and satisfaction in it, and being attached to it.
In our experience of lockdown this year, we were forced to give up things we took for granted in our normal lives - some of those things we enjoyed.
But what happened, giving credence to the Buddhist view, is that many of us found we could adjust and enjoy other things in our life.
We can enjoy, for instance, freedom of movement, but we can also learn to enjoy the experience of not travelling, finding pleasures and satisfaction in things near to home.
If we're attached to objects, experiences, or ways of doing things, we aren't going to cope well with change.
Being attached to what used to be will likely prevent you from accepting the new circumstances and finding new things to enjoy.
So much change in our lives is beyond our control. Accepting change, not being bitter about it - a sign that you have attachments - is a healthier way to live.
We think we've seen change this year. I suspect 2021 and the years following will see even more change, both locally and globally.
Change is going to be a big part of our collective futures.
So here's to change. Raise your glasses and move on.
• Northern Advocate columnist Vaughan Gunson writes about life and politics.