Chill winds are sweeping across Britain. With prices rising and jobs disappearing, it's not surprising that most of us are finding it hard to be optimistic. There's another 10p on a loaf of bread. Rents are set to go up by 4.
These days you have to call an emergency family meeting before you even switch the heating on. So is there anything to look forward to? Anything to take the misery out of the flat grey skies and dull wet days?
Here are 10 good reasons to be cheerful:
1. Your first day back in the New Year will probably not be a Monday. This is good. There's nothing worse than kicking off 2013 with a Monday morning.
What's more, if you start back on Wednesday 2 January, you only have to get through three days before it's the weekend again. Be thankful for small mercies.
2. The children go back to school. Wonderful though it is to spend every waking moment with your offspring, it is also quite a relief to have a bit of time apart.
3. Quite soon, you can take down your Christmas decorations. Tinsel and Christmas lights are very pretty on 24 December, but look a bit tawdry and dishevelled by the New Year. Once all the decorations have gone, you will be amazed how much bigger the rooms seem.
It's as if one of those TV experts has come and decluttered the house, when all you've done is binned the paper chains.
4. The shortest day of the year – 21 December – has been and gone. At some point (we live in hope), the sun will start to shine again. We will see daffodils. There will be spring lambs. The children will get excited about Easter eggs.
5. There's going to be a new royal baby. Yes, there are lots of people getting cross about all the media coverage ('You'd think no one had ever had a baby before'), but isn't it lovely to think about a new life, royal or otherwise, rather than fracking, global warming and the state of the Coalition? If you can't get excited about endless features on maternity dresses, there's always the glamour and style of the Oscars to look forward to. This year Jennifer Lawrence is tipped to get Best Actress for her new film Silver Linings Playbook. The woman is extraordinary. Get Winter's Bone or The Hunger Games out on DVD so that you're ready to say 'I told you so' on February 24.
6. It's nearly Valentine's Day. There may be new romance just round the corner. Alternatively, it's an excuse to curl up on the sofa with luxury chocolates and a rom com.
7. We might see a lot more bold, bright colours around, as designers realise we badly need cheering up. Trend-spotters at this year's London Fashion Week saw glitter, shine and neon on the catwalk.
If you're completely broke, and can't afford designer prices, don't despair. One of the key looks for women, for example, is a biker jacket over a girly dress, which is the kind of thing you might be able to a) borrow or b) find cheaply at your local Oxfam shop.
Alternatively, snap up stripes, checks or anything that looks like snakeskin from high street shops like Next, Topshop or H&M. You don't even have to brave bitter winter winds or the New Year's snow and ice – a new report from Ofcom says that UK consumers are wild about internet shopping, coming top out of 17 countries that include the US, China, Australia, France and Germany.
Apparently, we each spend an average of £1,083 a year online. Despite all this, the great British sales are still best experienced in person. Wrap up warm in a woolly hat and gloves and head out for the shops. There's nothing quite like a bargain on New Year's Day to get your heart racing.
8. The world didn't end in 2012, as the ancient Mayan calendar predicted. Every day, with our first cup of tea, we can feel relieved that we weren't squashed by a meteor, or drowned in a sea of hot lava, or blown to bits by an earthquake.
9. It's time to start planning your summer holiday. Admittedly, straight after Christmas, you probably can't afford a night with Lenny Henry in a Premier Inn, let alone a fortnight by the sea. But that's not really the point.
On a cold February evening, even the sight of a golden beach in brilliant sunshine is enough to lift your mood. Flick through the brochures. Skip from site to site. It doesn't really matter whether you book anything – the idea is to dream yourself away from the sleet, rain and ice of a British winter.
10. Who knows what the New Year will bring? If you're worried about money, or you've had a cold since October, or your family Christmas was one long argument, it's hard to feel anything but gloomy. But most of life is completely random – bad one minute, good the next.
You may not win the lottery. But there are all sorts of chance events just round the corner that could make you very happy. Make this your New Year's resolution: assume you're going to be lucky, and see what happens.
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