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By Jane Heil Usyk

I’ve already pushed through December and January. Now there are only three months left to go until beautiful (or mostly beautiful) May.

Three months. What can you do with three months? Once I wrote a book in three months. I don’t feel like doing that again, though. Three dark, depressing months. What can one do to counteract that?

Well, not too much jumps up at me; you can go to the movies, which I do, several times a week. And you can celebrate at every opportunity, to brighten the day, put yourself in touch with other like-minded, depressed folks like yourself, and provide a forum for sharing observations on the current season and anything else you’d like to share.

Here are my plans for this winter (some have already occurred). In December: well, for thousands of years people have recognized the problem of less and less sunlight and worked on it, coming up with yule logs, Christmas celebrations, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, candles, singing, gifts, trees, et cetera.

In our senior center we have a Spanish class, and our class always has a Christmas party. Everyone brought their signature dish, and we shared all the food and chatted each other up. Some years we’ve had a musician, but not this year. Some years we sing, but this year we didn’t. So it was just a lot of conversation, and friendliness, and food and wine. It was a celebration, something out of the ordinary.

In January my friend Joan, whom I met at Lucca on Father Demo Square almost forty years ago, had a big party—and this was after the brunch my husband and I had with John and Margaret on New Year’s Day. They were both fun, but Joan’s was terrific! Her apartment is big enough for a separate smoking area in the back, so people were back there smoking. There was also lots to eat: lox, olives, cheese, hummus, shrimp. Turkey chili. Ten kinds of dessert. And a LOT of wine. Plus, I knew nearly everyone who was there—about twenty nice people, some I hadn’t seen in years and years. I especially enjoyed talking with one of Joan’s cousins, an old lawyer named Max.

So that was helpful in January. Also, there is Three Kings Day, January 6th, which happens to be our anniversary. We did something but I don’t remember what.

Now it is February, the Chinese New Year (you can go to Chinatown and watch the parade and eat Chinese things). And after that I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day. I know a lot of people really hate it because you need an other to celebrate it right. But, alternatively, why not change it a little and make it a day to love yourself? After all, you are the one who’s always there, birth to death. Treat yourself really well. Take yourself out to lunch or dinner. Or both! Go to a concert or a show. Practice being happy and content by yourself; because even under the best of circumstances, you will probably spend some years alone.

Also, February is my husband’s birthday month, so I’m going to really do it up big. We usually go to Spain (the restaurant on 13th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, not the country). He has been going to Spain for many, many years, since before he met me.

In our early years, we were both working, so I had no problem inviting ten of his friends to come to a dinner party in Spain’s back room. It would cost $300 for dinner (usually paella), and it was a lot of fun. Then the parties got smaller. Now there aren’t any parties, just us, drinking away and chewing on those little broiled lamb things they have. But that’s all right. One year it was snowing as we left the restaurant, and the walk down 6th Avenue and through Washington Square Park was just magical.

In March, there are at least three holidays I think are worthy of celebration. The first, on the 10th, is the return of Daylight Savings Time. For us it means an extra hour of daylight in the late afternoon. There’s St. Patrick’s Day, which you might want to mark with a special toast or an Irish coffee, or go to the parade or watch it on television. And on March 20th of this year, spring officially returns. Definitely a day to celebrate!

April has two special days in it. On Passover, Jews celebrate their liberation from slavery in Egypt, usually with a major celebratory dinner and a lot of relatives. And on April 21st, Christians celebrate Easter, when Christ rose from the dead. Also an occasion for a big, delicious family dinner.

Then you will be looking at warmer weather, and you can take a big breath and relax; you got through the winter. Until then, enjoy the crisp air, the cold sunlight, the ever-lengthening days, the magical snowfalls.

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