I hope that you made it through Christmas and the holiday with some warm memories, and a Christmas as close to what you wished as possible, though holidays are unpredictable sometimes as to how they will turn out. But however it went, you made it through, and you can heave a sigh of relief.
There are three holidays I find potentially difficult. I love Christmas, and despite occasional bumps, it’s usually a happy time. But I know how challenging it can be for many people, and it can be an opportunity for loneliness instead of joy. I hope that yours was happy and not lonely. The other two holidays that can be tough are Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Most of us associate those two dates with being in love, or at least in a couple, and you feel like the odd man out when you’re not either one of those things. It is not fun to be the one person on New Year’s Eve who has no one to kiss at midnight. And Valentine’s Day can be really painful without flowers, chocolates, or dinner with a person you love. For me, those two dates are a real opportunity to feel like a loser, and feel left out if I’m solo that year. And even in a good relationship, your partner can fail abysmally on Valentine*s Day, and not bother, or forget what day it is. I regard those two dates with caution, and even dread on some years.
I never cared about New Year’s Eve for most of the years I was married. We stayed home and watched movies on TV, and were often asleep before midnight when our kids were small (We used to cheat and serve them ginger ale at 9pm, blow horns and tell them it was midnight, and then we’d go to bed after we put them to bed). I also had some ‘glamourous’ years when we gave big black tie dinners on New Year’s Eve, with everyone in black tie and evening gowns, with a delicious meal and champagne. Actually, the best New Year’s Eve we had of that kind, there was a huge storm in San Francisco, and the highways and bridge were closed—-with our chef for dinner on the other side. At 6pm he called to say there was no way he could get through. I didn’t want to disappoint my guests two hours before dinner, and leave them without plans, so we did the only thing I could think of—-we rushed around to fast food places, Jack in the Box, Kentucky Fried, pizza places. My guests arrived all dressed up, looking very elegant, and when they sat down to dinner instead of an equally elegant meal, they got corn dogs, and hot dogs, pizza, tacos, cheeseburgers, and every kind of fast food. There was a moment of shock, and then everyone started to laugh. We had the BEST time ever, and I still remember one of my beautifully dressed guests with ketchup on his chin saying “Who has the Curly Fries??” It was really fun, totally silly, and everyone loved it so much that I served the same menu again the next year at a black tie dinner. Personally, I’d rather eat a hot dog than a fancy meal any day—I eat like a 5 year old, and I love Kentucky Fried, and peanut butter and jelly any time!!!
Once I was divorced and alone, the idea of giving a beautiful dinner for all my friends who were in couples, while I was alone, really depressed me, so I thought about what would be fun and NOT depress me. I love to play poker, so I organized a poker game on New Year’s Eve. It was fantastic, about 20 people, playing for low stakes, with fast food again, and no one cared about what time it was or who they were going to kiss at midnight. And on a good year, I made about twenty dollars for the evening. It was a super fun way to spend a dicey holiday. And I hosted a poker game on New Year’s Eve for several years—not a hint of romance, just good friendly fun with other friends who were also alone. (it was in the vein of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, and we really had fun!!)
And last year, I shifted gears again. My ex husband, whom I often spent that evening with, was very sick, (and passed away this June), I didn’t feel like celebrating—–nor did I want to spend the evening mourning the past, and thinking of happier New Year’s eves. I decided to stay home, and started a new book a few days before. When midnight struck, I was plunged into the book, enjoying the work thoroughly, and didn’t care what day it was. Work is always a wonderful escape for me. It’s not a night I like being out, there are too many drunks on the road, and it seems dangerous. People try too hard at parties, and there is a melancholy feel to it when midnight rolls around. And if your life isn’t exactly where you want it, it’s too easy to see what’s missing, and remember happier times.
My children leave right after Christmas, and I’m going to spend New Year’s working again this year. For now, that really works for me. So there are lots of options on New Year’s eve, as a happy couple, at a party, at home with friends, tucked into bed with the person you love watching favorite movies or alone watching whatever you enjoy, playing poker, casually with a few friends, or all dressed up in a jazzy dress. I think the best way to spend it is doing exactly what you want to do, in whatever your circumstances are right now. And if it isn’t exciting for you this year, maybe it will be everything you hope for next year. In the meantime, I’m going to be working on a new book, and I hope you spend it some way you really enjoy. Have a great new year’s eve. Happy New Year!!