Tag Archives: New Year’s Resolutions

Not One of Our Better Ideas?

These are early 20th Century New Year's Resolutions (now in post cards, via Wickipedia)

Early 20th Century New Year’s Resolutions (now on post cards) via Wickipedia.

 

 

snow on pinecone branch

Two television commentators argued the pros and cons of making New Year’s Resolutions. Finally, one shrugged and said, “The practice of making yearly resolutions wasn’t one of our better ideas.”   Really? Our idea?  We take too much credit.

At the beginning of each year, the Babylonians made promises to their gods to do better, and began by returning borrowed objects and repaying their debts.

The Romans began each year by making promises to the two-faced god Janus. It wasn’t that Janus was fickle; he had the two-faced ability to see the past (the old year) and learn from it to move more clearly into the future (the new year).

And this one—for fans of Camelot—is from the Medieval era. The knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry.

The practice of evaluating our lives at the end of one year as we begin a new year isn’t something modern thinkers can claim. Somewhere along the line, though, the themes of New Year Resolutions have focused more on quitting some habits, creating better ones, and making general plans of things we’ll do day after day…until we forget or decide we need to do something else. Generally speaking, modern lists of resolutions are popular water-cooler topics that have less shelf life than milk.

Many years before her dementia, I asked my mom if she was going to have a New Year’s Resolution. She said it was pretty much the same every year: she resolved to wake up each morning, say a prayer, take a deep breath, and face the day ready to do the best she could do with whatever happened.

As British author and screenwriter David Nicholls said, “This is where it all begins. Everything starts here, today.” I don’t think either my mother or Nicholls was referring to a New Year’s Resolution, but to every day of life.

janus statue

Peacock display, Rolling Hills Zoo, Kansas

Peacock display, Rolling Hills Zoo, Kansas

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HOPE SMILES

A good daily reminder for the new year. (These two photographs by Marylin Warner)

A good daily reminder for the new year. (These two photographs by Marylin Warner)

Remember: "Good things come to those who work while they're waiting."

Remember: Good things come to those who wait…and especially to those who also keep working while they wait. (Or, to thank Judy Berman for this comment: “Good things come to those who hustle while they wait.” Thank you, Judy!)

Dear Mom,

It’s almost that time again, to sit down with pencil and paper and write a few New Year’s Resolutions. (Always use a pencil, so you can erase and make changes, right?)

You weren’t a big fan of resolutions. If I asked what your resolution was, you would say something like, “Each day I want to make things a little bit better,” or  “Every day I will think good thoughts about —–, or say a prayer for ——,” or “Every day I’ll be thankful for that day.”  The closest thing I found  to a quote about resolutions was when I was cleaning out closets after I moved you and Dad to your assisted living apartment and I came across an index card where you’d written this:  “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier…’ ” ~ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. And below that you’d written Yes, Hope really does smile.”

In addition to the messages under the pictures, here are three of my favorite hopeful messages for the new year.  Our blog friends are welcome to add their resolutions or favorite quotes, too.

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” ~singer, musician Brad Paisley

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes…Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do It. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~ author Neil Gaiman

Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.”   ~Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

This year, tell your own story, leave your own mark. (Canyonlands Natl. Park. Navajo Tse'Hone--"Rock That Tells A Story") Photograph by Jim Warner

This year, tell your own story, leave your own mark. (Canyonlands Natl. Park. ~Navajo Tse’Hone–“Rock That Tells A Story”) Photograph by Jim Warner

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations