Today is the 12th day of Christmas, and contrary to your true love giving you 12 drummers drumming, it’s the Feast of the Epiphany, the day when the three Magi visited Jesus and gave him the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Wrapping up the Christmas season with the promise of a better year ahead.

Take it from me, looking back at last year will have you using up a whole bottle of metaphorical eye drops, so – in the words of Don Corleone – fuggedaboutit.

The first rule about 2021: You do not talk about 2021.

The second rule about 2021: You do not talk about 2021.

The third rule  …  oh wait, that’s Fight Club.

Frankly, I’m not looking forward to another year of being reminded how bad “things” are all the time, so like an old rocking chair grandpa who puts down his ear trumpet when company comes, I feel the need to disconnect and learn to relax.

Maybe I should go ahead and just make “remember to relax” my New Year’s resolution, but on the other hand, I’m wary of making resolutions. A couple of years ago I considered replacing resolutions with the word intentions but remembered that the road to you-know-what is paved with good intentions.

I don’t know if there’s a word for that specific feeling, but there must be one out there. I did some searching and although I couldn’t find one for “learning to relax,” I did find a whole bunch of obscure words that I had no idea existed until I ran across the Barnes and Noble website with a review of a just-published book called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

I’m not sure if coronaphobia is in there, but there are some other real corkers.

For instance, I found that exulansis is the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

Opia is the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable. Then there’s zenosyne, the sense that time is hurtling by.

Solysium describes a kind of delirium arising from spending too much time by yourself – hello, quarantine!

Chrysalism is the “amniotic tranquility” of being indoors during a thunderstorm. Vemodalen is the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

You may have heard of nighthawk; it’s a recurring thought that only seems to strike you late at night. And nyctous, which is defined as “feeling quietly overjoyed to be the only one awake in the middle of the night.”

One of my favorites is mimeomia, the frustration of knowing how easily you fit into a stereotype, even if you never intended to.

It gets weirder: mahpiohanzia, the disappointment of being unable to fly; and onism, the frustration of being stuck in one body that inhabits only one place at a time.

The author says a word is only real if you want it to be, so feel free to mangle the English language and hope you’re not accidentally insulting someone.

I got to wondering if it would be OK to still be using the term gal, as in the inverse of guy. I mean, I don’t know if it might be taken as offensive in today’s ever-changing world. Frankly, I have no problem with adapting my terminology, because when you think about it that sort of thing has been going on forever in the English language, and probably all languages.

For example, you hardly ever hear people use words anymore like golly, gosh, gee whiz, gadzooks, gallivant, hootenanny, dungarees, knapsack, cobbler, or hornswoggle. And playschool is now known as preschool.

Me, I have no compunction about using those, except for maybe…hootenanny.

Older words that have gone out of favor should, however, be revisited to spice up our modern conversations. I found a few expressions we Americans used in the 18th and 19th centuries that could, in all honesty, be mistaken for today’s jargon. Like gruntle, one’s feeling of pleasure (the converse of … you know). Or monsterful, something “wonderful and extraordinary.” How about fuzzle, as in “that guy at the bar was really fuzzled.” You could say you wake up grumpish before you had your morning coffee. Or brabble on about something nobody cares about. Or twattling about someone behind their back. And don’t forget schadenfreude, an old German word that’s been cropping up lately in the not-unnasty political arena. It’s when you are pleased with another person’s pain or misfortune.


2022 should be a corker of a year, so onward and upward! Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!

Last year, as aggravating as it was, is now part of history, but hey, don’t throw your 2021 calendar away. Hang onto it so you can use it again in 2027, 2038 and 2049.

How’s that for optimism?