The enforced gaiety known as New Year’s Eve demands hailing midnight with champagne and light-heartedness. The alcohol’s easy enough to get, but a light heart may be beyond our reach. So I find myself remembering some savvy advice from a few people who learned how to manage that challenging night.

One of the more unlikely is George, a shy Colorado widower who usually didn’t say much at all.His wife had been their “social director,” as is true of many couples. So their friends had been mainly his wife’s. After she died everyone sort of forgot about George, since he was so quiet he easy to overlook. However, a few years after his wife’s death his sister insisted he accept an invitation he’d been sent by a former colleague. He grudgingly went to the party, but it was as if he was barely there. He just sat silently in a corner devouring the hors d’oeuvres. (Like the majority of us, he finds food a comfort!)

But when midnight came George  saw all the couples embracing. “A tidal wave of loneliness hit me,” he admits. “I suddenly realized how alone I was.” Without thinking he blurted out what was on his mind: ‘I sure could use one of those hugs.”

“I shocked myself,” he says, remembering the sudden silence. Then there was a burst of laughter, and he was engulfed in hugs .

”Ever since that night I’ve practiced asking for what I want,” he told me. “As my wife used to say, ‘Don’t expect people to be mind- readers.’”

Tess, a staunch Vermont widow, wasn’t even interested in hugs. “After my husband died I refused to go to any parties,” she days.“ But my next door neighbor made such a fuss inviting me I decided I’d go to be polite and if it was too hard I’d just leave. I was okay until it got near midnight and I saw couples signaling each other. I realized they were getting ready for that midnight kiss.” When 12:00 struck, Tess was nowhere in sight. “I hid in the bathroom,” she confesses.
“What a terrible experience,” I said.
“Difficult, but not terrible,’ she snapped. “I reserve ‘terrible’ for real catastrophes like earthquakes.”

Tess then created her own New Year’s routine. “I get copies of three favorite movies, blow my budget on an expensive dish like lobster, drink a glass – or two – of wine and have a perfectly decent time.”

This type of solo celebrating is followed by many people who are alone, especially with socializing limited by Covid. A divorced friend of mine who’s usually strict about nutritious eating, has a “wicked feast” as she calls it. “I splurge on the most fattening foods I can think of and open a bottle of French champagne.”
“Just for yourself?” I asked.
“ I don’t allow any ‘just me’ thinking. I’ve discovered I’m good company for myself.”

A hopeful New Year to all!

Books: “Widow’s Walk” – available through iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–xLibris.com; “Come and Go” – BookBaby.com; “Ten Women of Valor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.

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