New Year’s Eve is a tyrant. It demands that we Celebrate (yes, capital C), and be ever so joyous. But what if we aren’t up to that? What about those of us wounded by the loss of someone we love, through death or a terminal disagreement?  What about those who won’t be at a party or invited to join “another couple,” because they, themselves, are no longer coupled?

Sorry if I sound like a post-Christmas Scrooge, but New Year’s Eve looms like an obstacle course for many of us. This year the challenge is staring me in the face, for I’ll be alone. If “Saturday night is the loneliest night,” as that old song wails, what do we say about a solitary December 31st?

Last year was the first New Year’s when I was alone and it was a disaster – or I made it one. After hours of boring channel surfing, at midnight I had a glass of champagne and chanted “Happy New Year” to the crowd of strangers in Times Square – only they were just faces on the TV. My loneliness multiplied into a genuine “pity party.”

This year I’m determined to create a better scenario. I’ve been researching the surprisingly large number of other women who’ll be alone this fabled eve. They range from those who say defiantly, “I’ll get drunk” to the surprisingly many who confess – or boast – that they don’t even stay up until midnight.

I’m heeding friends who say they stock up on favorite foods and favorite films. I’ve even thought of calling everyone I know at midnight, but what if I wake them or – worse– hear the revelry of a distant party? I remember a widow I interviewed for my book “Turning Toward Tomorrow,” who went to a party but hid in the bathroom when “everyone began kissing at midnight.” I told her I thought the holiday was terrible. “Not ‘terrible,’” she said.” I reserve that word for real tragedies like tsunamis. Holidays may be difficult, but they’re hardly terrible.” Turning down invitations, she now makes the evening something to look forward to by playing a favorite opera and “pigging out” on the gourmet dinner she orders in from a restaurant.

So this year I plan to customize the evening. Taking a cue from one of my most positive writing students I plan to turn to the friend I trust – my journal. I will confide thoughts about this past year. It’s tempting to say it was a “bad” year. Yes, many dark things happened – especially for our country – but there was light, too, that I need to remember. Finding an unexpected new friend, having a story I’d given up on accepted, even a stunning sunset I witnessed from the height of a plane. For the truth is, no one year is either “bad” or “good.” They are all mixtures. And though we may carry inner wounds of loss, we need to focus on the blessing of those who are still with us.

I will also forecast in my journal what I plan to achieve in the new year. What I will do to protect my writing time, make a massive effort to find an agent for my new book, try to include in my life friends who have a positive view, and free myself of those who are contagiously bleak. I will also treat myself to an expensive wine, but not drink it at midnight, choosing my own time – unchaining myself from that ball that hurries so predictably down the side of the building. And when I tire of writing I’ll turn to a book I have saved for this night: Michelle Obama’s “BECOMING.” Bound to be an inspiration, as being in contact with strong women always is.

In other words, I plan to “own” the night – not the other way around! Hopefully it will help me own the new year, too.

BOOKS: Widow’s Walk – available through; Turning Toward Tomorrow –; Ten Women of Valor and Role Play- both available through and; also Amazon Kindle.