The one thing that’s really gotten me through this COVID year? You’ll love what we heard.

Time with family. Sewing masks for others. A border collie named Willow. Board games. Prayer. A husband who makes wine. Those are just some of the things Chicagoans told us.

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“Teaching mysel to cook new things” was one of the ways Julia Doyle has made it through a year of pandemic.

“Teaching mysel to cook new things” was one of the ways Julia Doyle has made it through a year of pandemic.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times file

We asked readers: What’s one thing that’s really gotten you through the pandemic year?

Here’s what we heard. Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“Gratitude. Celebrating the small joys that we often overlook due to the design of our fast-paced lifestyles.” — Baida Qureshi Torres

“Sewing thousands of masks and overhauling a house. Having a good partner helps a lot, too.” — Madeline Page Hunter Dittmer

“Normal times before COVID days, everyone was busy. You spent little time with your family. Spending time together as a family really lets you see the smile on your children’s faces, the love between you all — and the moments you missed because life got too busy. I think many realized it’s time to slow down and be with your family.” — Shawn Ravn

“Adding a new puppy. He’s keeping me busy.” — Cynthia Pau Arellano

“A whole lot of avocados, fantastic salsa and movie time with the kids.” — Robert Lisowski

“My crafts! They kept me busy, my mind off worrying. And I got some cute things in the process, which I gave away.” — Brenda Morajka

“My spouse. We are truly closer and appreciate one another more than ever.” — Shirlee Berman

“Playing ‘The Sims’ for hours at a time.” — Sarah Thomas

“Buying records and books. Also having my best friend — my wife — by my side.” — Steve Zooski

“Being an essential worker with a medical linen company. My faith and power of prayer. We prayed every morning before hitting the hospitals. It got us through the year.” — Mike Kaufman

“I was considered an essential worker from the start, and it kept me very busy. Additionally, spending time with my wife, who is also my best friend. And lots and lots of cable television.” — Michael Thompson

“Kindle — unlimited subscription. Zoom. FaceTime. And lots of prayers.” — Brenda G. Whitson Marquis

“The fact my family is close, and we put away the cell phones and computers to play board games and enjoy each other’s company.” — Lisa Varga

My music and exercising without going to the gym.” — Victoria L. Green

“Gratitude, my mother, streaming, books, wine and retirement.” — Denise Washington

“My dog, hiking and teaching myself to cook new things.” — Julia Doyle

“Definitely my faith. Knowing that when I thought I couldn’t handle all the garbage the world was throwing at me, God was telling me He had the stuff I couldn’t handle. To keep moving forward and the assurance that this, too, will pass.” — Bill Pionke

“Gratitude, prayer, meditation, laughter, sunshine, flowers, love, music, family.” — Amy Geinosky

“Playing guitar and writing songs.” — Staci L. Grisby

“A border collie named Willow!” — Kalli Ricka

“The Facebook group ‘View from my Window.’ Members from all over the world share photos from their windows. I have learned so much and felt so connected to people all over, and my cabin fever has been kept at bay.” — Julie MacCarthy

“Honestly, binge-watching shows from other countries on Netflix. There is a lot of very good stuff being streamed if you just move outside of your ‘American’ comfort zone and watch what other countries have to offer, especially Spain and Turkey. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.” — Gerald Myers

“My daughter and all of our pets. I’m grateful for the extra time I was gifted to spend this time with them.” — Kim LaMendola

“Working entirely within the performing arts industry, and having 100% of my livelihood upended (for a year now), I finally recorded and released my debut solo album and am in the process of completing the follow-up.” — Christopher Peifer

“Fishing. Towards the end of last summer, I went to northern Wisconsin and caught bass on five different lakes and pike on two of them.” — Bradley Nawara

“Walking trails in neighborhood parks.” — Bridget Cortez

“Zoom calls with my 3-year-old grandson who lives in New York state. I send him books and beanies from my collection. They send me videos of him opening them. I have had both vaccinations. When they get theirs, I will visit them. I can’t wait!!” — Jan Berg

“Power-walking outside and Zoom family game nights.” — Cathy Rausch Blanton

“Nostalgia and reconnecting with friends.” — Michael R. Butz

“Reaching out to friends and relatives.” — Lynn Lehmann Funk

Well, my husband makes wine — need I say more?” — Wanda Freeman

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