Above: In our December issue, find fresh takes on tamales and posole. Photograph by Douglas Merriam.

I'M READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Tree lightings, bizcochitos, Santa, farolitos, hot chocolate, and gathering with friends around bonfires on a cold December night of shopping local. Give me all of it.

After last year’s smaller-scale celebrations and 12 months of highs and lows, I’m hoping we’ll once again be able to come together to roll tamales, share a toast, and hold tight the ones we love.

And while we have plenty of ways in this issue to embrace these holiday traditions and build new ones, it’s also fitting that we take time this month to celebrate the outstanding contributions made by our 2021 New Mexico Magazine True Heroes. In the awards’ second year, we received more than 60 nominations that a panel of judges whittled to 10 honorees. These award winners will once again be honored for their work in a New Mexico Magazine Facebook Live tribute, hosted by KOB 4, at 7 p.m. on November 16.

As you read their stories, it’s evident how much the pandemic has affected every one of us in ways big and small. Yet, in these times of crisis, it’s also clear we’ve found new ways to work together, innovate, and adapt. The solutions we’ve developed and the partnerships we’ve built have not only helped us navigate the past 20 months but also represent a stronger way forward.

Consider David Elliot’s important work to create a COAD—or community organization active in disaster—to not only quickly and efficiently distribute about 27,000 vaccinations to people in Taos County but also create a model for future emergency response.

In Gallup, Dr. Jennie Wei’s efforts to help find temporary housing during the pandemic for those experiencing chronic homelessness showed promise as a long-term solution for getting people off the streets and into permanent homes.

At El Chante, Bianca Encinias helped her artists sell their work online while developing programs and more sustainable economic opportunities for local Indigenous and Latinx entrepreneurs and their families in Albuquerque’s South Valley neighborhood.

As El Chante volunteer Monica Trujillo says of Encinias: “She has the unique ability to educate others and remind us of our history, while simultaneously ensuring that we continue to have the resources we need to thrive in the future.”

Indeed, that’s the spirit of these awards, and a gift to carry with you through the holiday season.