In North Carolina, a soon-to-be state lawmaker whose victory made history says he is struck by how little feels changed. In Michigan, a suburban woman found her feminism in the Trump era only to see her family torn by the election outcome.

In a Pennsylvania town, the simple things still feel fraught. Plans for a small-town Christmas market spiraled into a bruising fight over public health and politics.

“What is holding our country together?” wonders Charisse Davis, a school board member in the Atlanta suburbs, where the election has not ended. A pair of Senate runoffs on Jan. 5 will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Davis may get her answer soon. A vaccine has brought hope and a chance for a nation to prove it can do big things again. New leadership in Washington may change the tone.

But now, at the end of 2020, many Americans say the experiences of the past four year have made them look at their neighbors — and their country — in a different light.