12/27/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
At PEOPLE, the holidays bring a special tradition: our annual talk with the President and First Lady. This year the First Couple seemed relaxed and open as we sat down in the Yellow Oval Room in the official residence, speaking candidly about the concerns they share with families across the country. Mrs. Bush talked of the challenge of caring for an aging parent, while the President appeared proud, and perhaps a little wistful, that daughters Jenna and Barbara are now making their own way in the world. Both Bushes were resolutely optimistic. "Americans are very generous and decent," said Mrs. Bush. "I just see that everywhere."
So do we. This year PEOPLE covered all the splash and dazzle of the celebrity world, from the wedding of Britney Spears
to the birth of twins for Julia Roberts
. At the same time, we were honored with awards for our coverage of drug and alcohol abuse, critical social issues such as AIDS and the riveting drama of the Laci Peterson trial. But what truly inspires us are the tales of everyday heroes who reflect the basic decency of the people who surround us. They include Sandra LaDay, the founder of People Supporting People, a Port Arthur, Texas, charity that provides the needy with hot meals, clothing and even schoolbooks (PEOPLE, Nov. 22); Matt Dalio, a 20-year-old Harvard junior who runs China Care, which finds homes for disabled orphans (Dec. 6); and Eric Alva and Brian Alaniz, two buddies who have helped each other heal after both lost legs in land-mine explosions in Iraq (Feb. 9). After each of these articles, readers responded with letters, offers of help and donations. It's the best part of this job—knowing that this magazine moves readers and inspires them.
With New Year's on the way, that's worth celebrating. Here's to a future filled with people who touch our hearts. They are truly everywhere.