“Joyous . . .Merry . . . Happy.” Welcome words? Not for the many of us who are coping with loss of any kind – a death, divorce, family illness, job – or simply garden-variety depression. It’s well-known that these tinsel-decorated holidays find more patients than usual in psychologists’ offices .

It’s so easy to focus on that sad data, and on the total sum of sad facts in our lives.  I’m not saying this from some kind of superior perch, but as someone who is coping with the illness of the one I love. (Whenever I hear that familiar, “God bless you,” I mutter, “I hope so!” )

Meanwhile, what can we do to bring some of those blessings into our lives? I’ve discovered how much depends on the half- full -or- empty attitude . My own losses have multiplied in the last few years, including the inevitable loss of old friends. I often say that I have more friends in the Other World than I do here!

So what can we do when we fall into an “annus horribilis” mood ? That was Queen Elizabeth’s famed summary of the year when one of her castles burned and more than one of her children had her burning. I’ve decided to try something: make a list of all the things I’ve wept over in the year that’s dying. They range from illness and death down to the loss of a favorite earring. Then I’ll tear up the list and make an alternate one – whatever I can unearth that was a blessing, even a small one. A new friend emerging, or an old friend getting in touch after all these years, a teenage grandchild actually getting on the phone with me (!), a morning when I woke up earlier than usual and saw the dawn through the window and realized how beautiful the world still is.

Despite laudable efforts we’re still faced with the holidays – Chanukah and/or Christmas, plus my least favorite, New Year’s  Eve. Last year I was alone on that fabled Eve for  the first time in my life. I dreaded the prospect and made the mistake of turning on the TV at midnight . There were all those people in Times Square hugging and kissing. I watered my glass of wine with my tears.

This year I’ll find a better way. I may or may not go to a party. I may in fact even choose to be alone. If so, I’ll plan for what brings me some measure of joy – order in my favorite foods, buy a bottle of good wine, stock up on movies. I might write that evening, perhaps start a new story or poem. Someone told me, “You shouldn’t work that night.” Why not, if writing brings me more satisfaction than almost anything else does? I might call a friend who’s alone, too; one I can count on to share – not self-pity – but laughs. I might also use the evening to list what I will give myself permission to enjoy in the coming months. (I know a woman who spent the evening studying travel brochures and planning a trip.) Then at midnight I’ll raise a glass in a private toast. We can at least celebrate ourselves.

To each of you my favorite New Year wish:
  May you go from strength to strength .

BOOKS: Widow’s Walk–; Turning Toward Tomorrow –; Role Play and Ten Women of Valor – and Amazon Kindle.
Children’s book: Maya’s Magical Adventures