Ah, New Year’s Eve…aside from Valentine’s Day, this is one of the most pressure-filled holidays on the calendar. Somehow during the course of history, the description of this particular day of the year was rewritten to include the necessity for having a romantic partner and a passionate kiss at the stroke of midnight. Bah! A day that simply marks the passing of one year into the next now requires a slinky cocktail dress, toasting champagne, and the possibility of getting lucky. What’s a girl to do when the prospects of a smooch at twelve are either not at all likely or just not desirable?
Is your new year truly doomed if you’re not in love and don’t have a special someone to ring in January one? Hardly.
Just like plenty complain about the over-commercialization of Christmas or Valentine’s Day (hello, like you’re only somebody if someone sends you a dozen roses and a box of chocolates on the big “V-day”? Uh, nope!), New Year’s is another red letter day that now has hefty expectations attached.
Who’s putting the pressure on? Do you really care what Ryan Seacrest thinks of your relationship status as he hosts the ball drop? Heck no! Are you putting all of your stock into what the glossy fashion magazines say is “the” way to celebrate?
The point is that you should celebrate New Year’s Eve, or any other day of the year, the way you want to! If you have it in your head that you need a significant other to lock lips with when the ball drops is that because that’s what you really want or because someone managed to convince you over the years that this is how it’s supposed to be?
If you allow yourself to get caught up in the hype of “how it’s supposed to be” according to public opinion or the entertainment industry, then you’re going to be in for a world of disappointment in life, girlfriend! From the moment you ended your marriage you became a maverick, bucking against the tide. So, New Year’s might just be your opportunity to throw convention out the window and do it your way in every sense of the word!
To be clear, your value as a human being and as a woman is not dependent on whether or not you’re someone’s woman. If you are, you are. If you’re not, that’s not a reason to feel glum, and it’s certainly not a reason to feel like you’ve failed. Not every New Year’s Eve is going to be filled with fireworks in the sky or between you and a partner. Life ebbs and flows as we transition between phases and relationships. This particular holiday might be quiet in comparison to those in the past, but it can still be enjoyable in its own way and for different reasons.
It’s exceedingly easy to feel down about how things are when they’re not like they always have been. We get nostalgic for people and places no longer in our life, and we, as humans, find comfort in repetition (aka tradition). There is beauty in reliving meaningful experiences as long as we don’t use them as a crutch to hinder our growth. There is also beauty in the colorful chaos of parties and activity, just as there is beauty in trying new things, new people, or even peace and solitude.
So, just because New Year’s Eve this year may not resemble the event the way you celebrated it last year, or even ten years ago doesn’t mean that it’s a loss. The best gift that this holiday can offer is reflection. What has this year represented in your life? Sure, because of a break-up some parts of it were truly awful; but, what have you had the chance to learn about yourself that you didn’t previously know? Who are you now and what do you want out of life?
As predictable as setting New Year’s resolutions is, it’s actually a brilliant step to make right now. A resolution will force you to take stock of what’s important in your life, to recognize your strengths, and to develop some interesting goals to pursue. These are some of the most important steps one can make following a divorce to prepare for healing and moving on with life, so why not make a date to complete this task for December 31st?
And, if the prospect of a non-traditional holiday is daunting, consider these options that may help you redefine your idea of fun (or meaningful, or a good use of time…):
Spend the evening with old friends or family that you haven’t shared a good time with in a while. Maybe the night will be more on the rowdy side with drinks and music, or maybe a pleasant time of reminiscing, board games, or a movie marathon.
Gain some perspective about your life by volunteering. Think about lonely seniors who might crave some company, the homeless whose needs include warmth or a meal, or offer to babysit for a friend who rarely gets a break from parenting. Your gift of time may make a world of difference for something simple and often taken for granted.
If you have your children with you, make some memories with them! New Year’s Eve is a favorite in my family because instead of dinner we make a smorgasbord of appetizers and desserts like chocolate fondue, hot wings, and various dips. We toast sparkling cider and spend the evening playing games, watching football, and enjoying the last of the Christmas tree.
Take in some culture. Your city may offer music, theater, or other ways to be entertained and inspired. Whether the symphony or a rock concert, an art show or a play, you can step out on a limb to try something new!
Pick a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, invite some friends, and splurge like you wouldn’t do on a “normal” day.
Spoil yourself. Yes, it’s a holiday and you may have to get creative to find options that are open for business, but what about starting the New Year with a new haircut, a massage, or a manicure? Consider booking yourself for an appointment for an individual service or go all out and schedule time at a spa for extended relaxation.
Get serious about some resolutions. They can be cheesy if you resort to trite goals, or they can be deeply profound if you take them seriously. What do you want next year to look like and what’s your game plan to make it happen?
No matter what you do to recognize this New Year’s Eve, make it your own kind of magical. Don’t worry about how you’ve always done it or what everyone else is doing! Get real about the fact that no two years are alike and that you are evolving, so your holidays need to keep pace with your growth!
Most of all, have an amazing new year!