A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

By Nina Pajak

Welp, it’s been a year. A good year? Sometimes, sure. But one that was also by turns filled with anger and fear and frustration and tragedy. I suppose that’s just the flow of any year, so in that sense we did just fine. Okay, so things are a little tense across the country, and thousands are still dying of ebola and terrorism abounds, and two of the freaks from Freaks and Geeks may have had a role in placing us on what could be the verge of a new cold war with North Korea. Also all toys are toxic and our cops hate our mayor and soon we will feel the wrath of a thousand polar vortices upon us. But Betty White is still dancing on TV! So things can’t be all that bad. Right? Sure.

And yet we persevere, if not with the naive hope that 2015 will be better, then at least with the tentative belief that we will be prepared to face whatever the next twelve months will offer up. And that’s one sort of optimism, isn’t it? Maybe it’s still a teeny bit naive, but I feel the need to cling to that shred of ingenuousness if for no one else’s sake than my kid’s. I mean, who wants the “doom and gloom we all die alone” mom? Not that I grew up with the “Susie Cream Cheese” mom. No, I had the “unflinching realist” mom, which is a type I could live with becoming. Although, I may try to cut back on the newspaper clippings about teenagers dying of accidental overdoses and kids drowning at summer camp. I said maybe.

Anyway, ahead we forge. Christmas is coming, and even if you don’t celebrate it’s difficult to resist the charms of twinkly lights, velvet bows, and Bing Crosby. But if you need a little extra help to see the sunny side, here are a few end-of-year pick-me-ups.

1. A story about a crazed, cocoa-jonesing monkey on a Kinder bar bender who terrorized a French town until being tracked down by authorities, tased, and sent to rehab. He’s going to be okay, which is what makes this story fun and not awful.

2. Beyonce and Jay-Z didn’t break up! Long live the King and Queen. Love still reigns.

3. This video in which a pet food company staged a holiday dinner for 13 dogs and 1 cat sitting around a table wearing sweaters and eating with human hands. HOW DO THEY DO THIS STUFF? But the Golden Retriever with the hoodie! And the drunk Staffie? Come on, now. Watch this, then look at your face. Now wipe that dumb grin off your face.

4. There’s no John Travolta-Olivia Newton John Christmas duet this year. Actually, maybe that’s a bad thing.

5. This hedgehog walks across a piano and winds up playing something like jazz. It’s as good as any jazz I’ve been capable of appreciating, although I am no expert on jazz. Or hedgehogs. Good idea: it’s a Vine, so just keep it going on loop. Soon you will hear secret messages in the flat notes.

Happy and safe holidays to all!

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!