In the late 1950s, when I was fifteen and seriously boy crazy I wrote six New Year’s Resolutions in my diary. Only back then I spelled them “reoloutions.” One: Take better care of myself. Jeez, I’ve been making and breaking that resolution for well over a half a century! Two: Get a boyfriend and show him off to the girls at school. Three: Make Dale sorry he went “which” Judy. “Which” was my dyslexia spelling for “with.” In my world any word that started with ‘w’ and ended with ‘h’ were used interchangeably for decades. (Dale, by the way, was the first boy who ever kissed me and fireworks literally went off overhead. How’s that for a memorable first kiss?) Four: Get thinner. That’s another resolution that’s been repeated more years than I’d care to admit. Five: Improve my personality. As an adult I can see the irony and humor in making that resolution on the heels of making one about getting revenge against poor Dale for throwing me over for Judy. Six: Do things to make me happier in 1958. That year, according to a list I found in the back of the diary, I kissed four boys and I also found a copy of a breakup letter I wrote to a guy so I was able to make one at least one of my resolutions come true. Side note: When Dale died several years ago, they had to cut him out of his house because of his morbid obesity. I was grateful it was Judy, and not me, who’d spent all those years cooking his meals.
Fast forward to this century and the impulse to write resolutions is still part of my DNA but for New Year’s Resolutions 2017 I could be lazy and recycle four resolutions from my 1958 list: 1) Take better care of myself; 2) Get thinner, 3) Improve my personality and 4) Do things that make me happier. If I wanted to include the one about “getting a boyfriend” I’d start by switching my regular grocery shopping day to Tuesdays, just after lunch. That’s when the local veteran’s facility buses in a bunch of old men in wheelchairs who are being helped by equally old men helping them shop. I was in the checkout line behind one of the volunteers and his charges this week and I caught smitten-itis. He was my age to the month and day, had been a helicopter pilot with search and rescue in his career years. Totally wrong for me. If I was looking. For one thing, I don’t do spur of the moment and being in search and rescue is all about being ready for anything at any time. And two, my idea of keeping fit doesn’t involve a gym, rock climbing or repelling down ropes. That old guy is making the rest of us look bad!
Back on topic: According to one statistic I found on the web, young people are more likely to make New Year’s Resolutions that older people and only 68% of Americans make them at all. But what I find more interesting is the fact that making resolutions is a world-wide tradition that dates back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. Back then, according to the History Channel they started the new year after “the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness.” They would celebrate the spring harvest coming in and the people had to reaffirm their loyalty to the king.
Then in 46 BC that scandalous Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar, moving the beginning of the new year to where it’s still celebrated is today. Julius declared January first to be a day to honor its namesake, Janus, the god of beginnings. The Romans threw raucous parties that included offerings to Janus. When John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) came along he added his spin on New Year’s Eve in 1740 when he came up with an alternative to all the holiday partying---a church service where reflection on the past and renewal for the coming year were important. I was going to say that Julius had more influence over the way we celebrate New Year’s than pious John but then I googled church services on New Year’s Eve in my city and I found more services than I could count which just proves you’re never too old to learn something new about your fellow man.
There is one resolution I should make. Critical word is “should” but I don’t know if I’m capable of learning to be more spontaneous. I’m a list, schedule, calendar and routine obsessed person but my new friend---BL---from The Gatherings labels herself as a spur of the moment person. An example of that would be we had plans to meet for lunch today and this morning she emailed me, asking if I have time to catch a movie, too. I baby-stepped my way to spontaneity and said “yes” then I spent the next five minutes re-figuring my schedule. 12:45 be at the gas station, pick up photos at 1:00 before lunch instead of after. Pick up the house for tomorrow’s service call while the nightly news is on TV, do laundry at 7:00 PM. Hey, maybe old dogs can learn new tricks! ©