A story in the September 2008 issue documented families of elephants living in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Here, a bull elephant named Boone greets a matriarch named Maya and her daughter.

Elephant Family

A story in the September 2008 issue documented families of elephants living in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Here, a bull elephant named Boone greets a matriarch named Maya and her daughter.
Photograph by Michael Nichols, Nat Geo Image Collection

31 photos from the Nat Geo archives that evoke joy

Last year, I was watching Christmas morning unfold through my phone screen. I looked on as my siblings and parents opened gifts from under the tree, trying my best to smile and laugh at their reactions—even as I dealt with some technical delays. It was my first Christmas away from home and the physical distance was painful. But with the pandemic, I knew I was just one of many experiencing upheavals during the holidays. (How do you find moments of grace, beauty and joy during a pandemic?)

2021 was a tumultuous year—but, the resilience humanity has shown this year continued to give me hope. I wanted this month’s photo selection to evoke warm feelings and celebration, as well as some quieter winter moments.

In this gallery you’ll find a warm elephant greeting, mariachis serenading a newly-wed couple, a very Nat Geo-esque Christmas card exchange in Antarctica, and (my personal favorite) a Korean family making a celebratory feast of dumplings.

This holiday season I’m thankful to have been able to safely gather with my family in person again, making our own dumplings as we celebrate the new year. Cheers to hopefully more moments of hope in 2022.

Heather Kim is the editor for Photo of the Day. Melody Rowell writes and researches the captions.

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