Sometimes it's not hard to get caught up – and annoyed - by some of the less than memorable parts of life.

Political scandals, problems reducing our horror road and suicide death tolls, the plight of the poor and the homeless, family feuds and the sluggish start to summer are all regular causes of frustration.

But as 2018 nears its end, it's a good time to reflect on what actually matters – health, family and friendship.

And that is certainly the message of several New Zealanders profiled in a Herald series over the past week highlighting their near death experiences.

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For the past week, the Herald has run a series of upbeat stories of New Zealanders who end this year more thankful than most to be alive.

Today, veteran broadcaster Rod Vaughan opens up on how the small plane he and his son were flying in over Waihi fell from the sky in March after the windscreen of the two-seater aircraft exploded mid-flight.

Vaughan had to perform a crash landing in farm paddocks and thankfully he and his son were not badly hurt.

Vaughan, like the other participants in the series, has a new appreciation for life, saying post-crash he "was thanking my lucky stars I was still standing".

The sentiments of the likes of Vaughan and the others who took part in the Herald's story should be ringing in all of our ears as the dawn of a near year nears.

For most of us, when we step back and consider our lot, we really are fortunate.

We live in a great country which is void of so many other problems that so many other first world countries face. And we must all do our bit to keep it that way, and do whatever we can to help those not so fortunate.

As we prepare to farewell 2018, the Herald on Sunday wishes all of our readers the very best of New Year celebrations and hopes the next 12 months bring you happiness.

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