The “season to be jolly” has been undermined by the discovery of another Covid variant. It reminds me of the ad for the movie ”Jaws” – Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water. Yes, we thought we were nearing the turning point in this Pandemic, so the emergence of Omicron throws a frightening pall over the holidays.

I’m a believer in the famous prayer to “change what I can” and “accept” what I can’t. Certainly we can’t wave our hands and make the virus disappear. But perhaps we can find ways to make our way through this season – and beyond – without being handicapped by fear. Aside from the obvious lifesavers – get vaccinated, get a booster, wear a mask – what is there we can do? For one thing, we can find other topics to focus on. I say that because recently I was in a social gathering where the sole topic was Covid, including a recital of “breakthrough” cases. I doubt that any of us left that evening feeling festive. No wonder the national depression rate is climbing.

This doesn’t mean closing our eyes to the reality of the data. It does mean making a deliberate effort to put our attention on things we can control. We can choose to distract ourselves with inspiring books, interesting movies (on TV), and the growing number of (free) online lectures and workshops about any number of subjects.

I’ve discovered it’s up to each of us to know what can raise our spirits. What may work for someone else, isn’t necessarily what helps me. One thing that seldom fails is to phone an old friend for some “catching up.” (Make sure it isn’t one whose view is constantly bleak!) And though it sounds like a cliché, reaching out to someone who’s alone or struggling with loss is invariably a boost to your own morale.

Exercise is another sure-fire aid. These winter days my self-talk is too often along the line of “I know walking is good exercise but..” So I try to turn that channel and force my body out the door. It helps to give myself a destination (the grocery store, the pharmacy). Actually, indoor exercise is also available online. For instance, Dorit, a New York organization geared to seniors, provides daily exercise routines we can follow along with the visual. So do numerous other organizations, including libraries.

My primary mood-lifter is a daily gratitude prayer. In these dark days when so many plans have to be jettisoned and a better tomorrow seems constantly receding, there doesn’t seem much to feel grateful for. Yet every night I give thanks for whatever was rewarding in the day. It isn’t always easy to find something (a friend once said all she could give thanks for that day was a good breakfast). It’s too easy to overlook the small moments worthy of gratitude – but life is made up of small moments. It’s also strengthening to ask yourself what you did that made those moments possible! It may help you recognize that you have more strength than you realized.

Best wishes to all for a season of hope!

BOOKS: COME and GO – available through; WIDOW’S WALK –; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY– available through and; also Amazon Kindle.

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