For several years after my husband and I separated, the day I dreaded most was New Year's Eve. I feared parties because I imagined that the moment the ball dropped, everyone in the room would grab their beloved and start smooching while I stood awkwardly alone. But my anticipation was always worse than the night itself.
My ex moved out five years ago this December, and for that first New Year's Eve, my wonderful daughter -- then a college senior -- thoughtfully planned a party at our house so I wouldn't face the night alone. She spent all day making hors d'oeuvres, involving me in the preparations, and filled our home with her chatty, adorable friends to keep me company. I can't thank her enough, though I was too freaked out to express my gratitude at the time. I don't remember how I stumbled through the holiday during the next few years, but I'll never forget that the moment midnight struck, each of my kids invariably called me from wherever they were to wish me a Happy New Year and tell me they loved me. That went a very long way.
If you're recently separated or divorced and are fortunate enough to regard the holiday as just another night of the year, you'll survive it easily by settling in with a good book or DVD. But if you can't quite convince yourself that the night is ordinary, then make plans with a few single girlfriends. Invite them over for a pot-luck dinner and a viewing of "The First Wives Club" or the original black-and-white version of "The Women." Or go out with them to a movie or comedy club. Before you know it, you'll realize that the holiday is, in fact, just another night -- and that every new year of your life really does get happier.