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25 stories for December 25

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Every December, media organizations publish lists of the year’s most read stories (and you’ll see the Times list in a newsletter next week). But today – at Christmas – we’re going to do something different.

In 2020, three huge stories – a pandemic, an election and a race for racial justice – dominated the news. They were so tall that they overshadowed many other subjects. So I asked the main editors of The Times to tell me their favorite articles they had published this year.

Forgotten is a subjective idea, of course, and maybe you’ve read some of them already. But I am convinced that many of you did not. They are a deeply human mixture, filled with discovery, joy and pain. Some relate to the major themes of the year and others are entirely distinct.

So this December 25th, we’re bringing you 25 awesome stories:

1. Perhaps this is the skull of Pliny the Elder.

2. The aging of dogs can provide useful clues to humans.

11. In recent years, female runners have gotten much faster.

12. A 16-year-old bridge player has asked an 82-year-old – one of the best of all time – to team up with him for a tournament.

13. A reporter drove 5,000 miles to say goodbye to her father, six feet away.

14. He took a bullet in New Zealand to save his son: a stubborn love story battling trauma that won’t let go.

15. She was denied access to a telescope because of her gender, but she went on and made groundbreaking discoveries about the cosmos. E. Margaret Burbidge died at age 100.

16. Modern prospectors make thousands of dollars selling gems they have unearthed.

17. “The Power Broker,” Robert Caro’s 1,246-page book, has become the cliché prop for TV appearances at home.

18. Is this the prettiest public bathroom in New York?

19. As a senator, Joe Biden spoke about China’s transformation through trade. He doesn’t do it anymore.

20. The leaders of the army are predominantly white. Still, Lloyd Austin rose to the top.

21. The NAACP is trying to end manipulation by the energy industry.

22. The Times Magazine went backstage to see California life-sentence inmates attempting to get parole.

23. Life on an icebreaker: constant darkness and minus 50 degrees Celsius.

24. Tad Jones, who has lived in a forest for decades, faced an existential battle with a wildfire in Last Chance, California.

25. Black actors, writers and other creators spoke about the art that inspires them.

A programming note: I will be leaving next week. My colleagues will come in and The Morning will appear in your inbox every day of the week. I’ll see you in 2021. – David

A pandemic Christmas: Each year, Bethlehem attracts pilgrims, tourists and dignitaries, but the pandemic has left the West Bank city devoid of visitors, with ailing hotels and full intensive care beds.

Modern love: A son spends Christmas with his father, who was released from prison just in time.

Lives lived: Xin Xing, the star of Chongqing Zoo in China, was the world’s oldest captive panda. She had more than 150 descendants in several countries. She died at age 38, the equivalent of at least 110 in human years.


This holiday season, think about journalism that helps your friends and family understand what’s going on in the world and how to navigate it. Give a Times subscription today.

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