Dear Readers: Here's wishing you and your loved ones a joyful holiday! Please remember I am always here and I answer everyone's letters, including all those that don't fit in the column. Though most of us can handle problems in work and the outside world ourselves, problems of the heart are much more difficult. Sometimes you need someone with perspective to help. I enjoy being here for you and I wish you the best, as ever. Warmly, Miss Lonelyhearts
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: On Christmas Eve, which I always spend alone, I make a list of 10 top people I want to reach out to -- and I phone each one and chat for 10 minutes. Some are older relatives who might be lonely, some are longtime friends, some are people I used to know in other provinces. I look forward to Christmas Eve as a time when my heart is warmed over and over again by these wonderful voices from my life on Earth. On Dec. 25 I see my family for dinner. I just wanted to make this suggestion for people who might be alone on Dec. 24 like I am. I always laugh with delight when I hear the words "I'm making a list, checking it twice," because I am already composing my top 10 the week before and getting the phone numbers current. -- Making My List, Winnipeg
Dear Making My List: Sounds like a fun experience, but don't limit to it to a "top 10" if you have a few more you'd like to call. To make it even more fun for you and the recipients, I hope you play Christmas music in the background and have goodies and eggnog by the phone. There's nothing like tapping all the senses. If you have pictures of the friends, get them out. Want to see them "in person"? You wrote me online, so consider gifting yourself with a Skype download, so you can see each other on your computer when you visit next time. P.S. You'll need a microphone and a webcam, both inexpensive.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I like to go to church late on Christmas Eve with the bells ringing to sing carols and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, but my husband refuses to go. I used to take the children, but now they are teenagers and refuse to go as well. He says, "I'll just stay home with the kids." That's a crock and he knows it. They go out with their friends. I feel lonely and embarrassed and angry at my husband because I go to church alone, without my spouse, and others are their with their husbands and wives. Some are even holding hands. He says it looks phoney if he just shows up on Christmas Eve, when he doesn't go the rest the year. I don't know what to do. Should I stop going? -- Alone at the Church, Winnipeg
Dear Alone: There are lots of people in your position, so consider making it a new activity where you go with a friend or relative who likes the beauty and the meaning of a Christmas Eve service or midnight mass, and the magic of the bells you enjoy so much. Since half the church members only show up for Christmas and Easter events these days, who's to know? Stop making it about your husband. This is your special thing. Should he try to argue about his not going (out of guilt), just tell him it's not about who's looking at him. People are too wrapped up in their own plans and activities and families to worry about his attendance. It's just an excuse anyway. He doesn't want to go, period. So go with people who will be fun.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I find the day before Christmas to be very discombobulating for me. I run around in circles, checking and rechecking lists, fearful I have missed getting a gift for somebody who will show up on Christmas Day with a gift for me. How do you handle that embarrassing situation? -- Insecure Gift Giver, North Kildonan
Dear Insecure: You say, "Thank you so much, that was so lovely and thoughtful," and give the person a big hug. Don't bring up the fact you don't have something for them. You just express your gratitude enthusiastically (instead of looking embarrassed) and get on with enjoying them at the dinner or party. Another alternative: Some people buy a few unisex gifts, wrap them, and keep them nearby in the next room or in the car or a bag, with a pen and gift tags. About 15 minutes later, they skip into a private space, write the tag, and return with the gift. Problem solved, no guilt, on with the show!
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave. Wpg R2X 3B6 or email firstname.lastname@example.org