If the holidays are a bit lonely for you, you're not alone. Christmas dinner isn't served up on a Norman Rockwell commemorative plate for me, either. Having been widowed years ago, I'm seeing a wonderful man, but in keeping with the complex logistics of modern love, he spends holidays with his teenage kids on the opposite coast.
With friends and coworkers heading out for vacations and family get-togethers, I catch up on things at the office. After the hectic brain-drain of the weeks leading up to Christmas, I enjoy the productive quiet time, but there are moments, I must admit, I get a bit blue.
I spent Christmas Day loafing around the house and headed out Monday morning for a bit of retail therapy, but ended up in a karmic snowglobe that reminded me of that great line from Lennon and McCartney: "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
Saks was crazy crowded, but I had a gift return: an excellent excuse to catch the "sales buzz." An unusual handbag called my name from a first floor boutique area where a single overwhelmed salesperson was struggling to keep up with the bargain sharks.
"Diane Gilman?" The customer in line ahead of me was dripping in diamonds, decked head to toe in Gucci. "You're more beautiful in person than you are on TV."
I almost fell over. This was a high-end shopper who could obviously rock the $800 status jeans if she wanted to, and she was tuning in to buy my jeans on HSN? I had to ask why.
"You," she said. "I just love you. You make me feel like I can take on the world."
With my day made (and that adorable handbag scored!) I worked my way upstream on the escalator, aiming for the shoe salon but ambushed by a display of gorgeous coats on the second floor. A hardworking saleswoman in a smart suit and sensible shoes muscled me in front of a mirror.
"I know who you are," she said. "You're just as lovely in person. Thank you for speaking out and saying all the things I feel like I can't say out loud."
Twice in the space of one hour? Now I'm completely blown away. This usually happens no more than a couple times a week.
Hefting my bags, I escaped through the jewelry department to 50th Street, heading toward Madison Avenue to hail a cab. Suddenly, a car screeched to a halt. The back door flew open, and out jumped the cutest woman with a wall-to-wall grin.
"Oh my God, Diane Gilman! I'm your biggest fan!" She launched into a blizzard of enthusiasm about how she loved my designs and had called in on my show. She asked me to pose for pictures with her, her husband and her son right there on 50th street, which I did, my arms loaded with shopping bags, traffic roaring around us.
"I just had open heart surgery," she said, her eyes welling with emotion. "This is my first day out in six weeks... and I found you! You just made my holiday season."
I assured her that she'd made mine, too. I headed home, feeling so loved, so honored and so on-the-right-track for my purpose-driven life.
I genuinely love and respect the women (and men) who buy my clothes, read my blog and get on board with my "aging agelessly" philosophy. It's a privilege to feel that coming back.
I suppose you could say I was overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. (And bargains!) What an amazing affirmation, a positive omen for the new year, a heads up from the universe, telling me to keep putting myself out there.
It's easy to get bogged down in the busyness and non-Rockwell moments of the holidays. If you're feeling blue, I hope a magical moment pulls up to the curb, wraps its arms around you, and brings you back to what matters: reaching out, giving back, paying attention, decoding and appreciating messages from the universe.
Happy New Year! May you spend it wisely, sending love out into the world, knowing it will come back to you when you least expect it.