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Diana FisherBy the time you get to my age, you begin to think that getting all dolled up and going out on the town on New Year’s Eve is overrated.

First of all, I’ve had the stuffing kicked out of me by all of those Christmas gatherings and celebrations. My energy level is as low as my bank balance. I can’t afford a fancy dinner out or tickets to a gala event. My ball gown doesn’t fit after all of those Christmas cookies and tortière. I might as well stay home.

There’s a growing trend, I believe, of people who just want to stay in on Dec. 31. Yes, if you’re young, you should go out and dance and party and do the countdown and kiss the first person you see after the stroke of midnight. But if you’ve been there and done that, you may want to spend the evening doing something a little more quiet and reflective.

New Year’s Eve can be dangerous on the roads. I’d like to think that the younger generation is much wiser than we were when it comes to drinking and driving – and statistics seem to point to that being the case. But wintry weather and fatigue after a night of partying can also contribute to accidents on the road. If you stay in, you’re not in danger of adding to the numbers of New Year’s Eve casualties.

But what to do if you stay in? What would New Year’s Eve look like from that perspective?

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In my experience, a feed of pizza or – even better – takeout Chinese food would be on the menu. Make sure you have a bottle of bubbly just in case you make it to the stroke of midnight. What the heck – you can pop the cork earlier if you’re getting weary. You aren’t going to lose any points. It’s already 2018 in Australia. My go-to bottle of bubbly used to be Freixenet. Now it’s Beau’s New Lang Syne. It’s a Belgian tripel, whatever that means. It’s beer-based and it’s delicious.

Make sure you have something to do – I recommend you invite friends over for a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity or Catan. This is much more interactive fun than just watching a movie – although you could have Elf or Love Actually rolling in the background to complete the festive setting. Talk, laugh, compete, have fun. Let the conversation wander off on a number of tangents. Enjoy each other’s company.

The end of one year and the beginning of the next is the prime opportunity to reset. As the hour draws near, give each person a piece of paper and a writing implement. Each of you writes down five words that represent 2017 for them. Maybe for you it’s joy, success and family. But there could also be some sorrow, disappointment and regret in there. Pass your sheets around and compare notes. You might even learn something you didn’t know about the person sitting beside you.

The next part is extremely satisfying. If you have a fire going, ball your paper up and toss it into the flames. Goodbye 2017! No fire? No problem. Rip that sucker into tiny pieces and flush it down the toilet.

Next, write down five words that you hope to experience in 2018. These could be related to family, your health, travel, your career or your personal life. Whatever comes to mind. Then fold that paper up and put it aside (or take it home if you’re a guest at this celebration). If you have a calendar, put it there, taped to the last page of 2018. You can read it at the end of next year and see how you did.

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Here are my words for you in 2018: joy, laughter, health, love, fulfilment.

We never know what the next year has in store for us. But we can try to be receptive to life’s lessons, to recognize that individuals cross our path for a reason and we have a purpose here. That purpose may change from year to year. But it’s important to honour your dreams, your inspiration and your talent.

Give to others and always try to take the high road. Because if you focus on the positive, give the benefit of the doubt and ignore the trolls, I truly believe we will all be better off.

Happy New Year. It’s a fresh beginning. Make the best of it.

Troy Media columnist Diana Fisher is a freelance writer living on a 200-acre farm along the Kemptville Creek in Oxford Mills, Ont.

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