DEAR READERS: During this beautiful holiday season I want to thank everybody who reads my column, writes in with their own problems, or sheds light on someone else's difficult situation. I love to receive your letters every day and enjoy your feedback to my answers. You should know I welcome and answer all the letters from everyone who writes by email or snail mail, although there isn't room for everyone's answers to appear in the daily column. I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year. -- Warmly, Miss Lonelyhearts
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I get my Christmas shopping done early and then it kind of seems like a letdown cruising into Dec. 24 when everyone is bustling and rushing and I'm bored and have lost the mood. I used to do that, but I can't take the anxiety any more so I do everything early. I don't go to church, but I'd like to do something significant and Christmasy on Christmas Eve. My family doesn't meet for dinner until Christmas day. If you have an ideas for me, I'd like to hear them. -- Kind of Lost, St. Boniface
Dear Lost: Christmas Eve is a great day to be extra good to people and really show some Christmas spirit. During the day, and as the sun goes down, there are ways to spread love. Invite a lonely neighbour over for tea and goodies, adopt a pet if you've been thinking about it, phone up the older relatives for little chats, or get out and donate food and/or money to a charity.
You could pull out old photographs to bring and share at Christmas dinner the next day and juice up your camera to take new photos. Outside your house or apartment you can give cards to shopkeepers and service people near you, open doors for strangers and wish everyone you meet as you walk a Merry Christmas or happy holiday. You can light up your windows with twinkly lights and leave them on a little longer to light the way at night for the people around you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Some crotchety old aunts are coming to our Christmas dinner and I don't know what to do with them. They grumble and bumble and don't drive, so my husband's job is to go out and pick them up then get them home safely. He has always liked the old dolls and is a bit of a mischief maker and a big flirt. This year he thinks he should feed them "lady cocktails" from the moment they get in the door and that will take care of everything. I'm kind of amused by the idea, but don't know where it could lead. What do you think? -- Unsure Hostess, River Heights
Dear Unsure: Don't underestimate seniors. Unless the gals have lost their marbles, they will say yes or no to the pretty lady cocktails as they see fit, or they might demand something stronger, like a no-nonsense martini. There's no point in getting them completely bombed or they might fall over and hurt themselves, but they might be quite charmed if you serve drinks that were popular in their day such as a Pink Lady or a Grasshopper, along with some appetizers. It will certainly help them relax. Crotchety comes from many sources: physical ailments, anxiety, not knowing what to say and old feuds that bubble up. Remember the old saying: Music soothes the savage beast. Add some old-fashioned Christmas music, such as Bing Crosby tunes, to the mix and mellow out the mood for them.
The seating arrangements at dinner are also very important, and certain kids sitting with adults can stop family feuds and add some fun. But the kids must be included in the conversation and be asked their opinions on things, too. Some of the spunkier small kids on pillows could have the old aunties softened up in a minute. Give some strategic thought to this important dinner and the games to follow -- like charades -- and you could have the merriest Christmas dinner ever!
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6