January: When I Make (And Break) Resolutions


You know what I love about Jan. 2? I love that by then I’m over and done with my resolutions.

Oh, I make them. I start thinking about how to improve life for myself about Dec. 26, after my third piece of coffee cake. By about 11 a.m. on that day after Christmas, the gritty, unnerving sound of a legion of toys with fresh batteries has permeated my cerebral cortex and started the slow aural drilling that means my brain is just about ready to ooze out of my ears. It is then that I vow to take walks (loooong walks, out of the house), eat less, drink less and not take up smoking after all.

While the gleeful sounds of childhood laughter do nothing to prevent my urge to take all said toys and hurl them through the front window, I vow to get a grip on my emotions — to become a kinder, gentler person with whom tots love to share their joy, not the impatient, snarling monster I have become since those darling little gifts were unwrapped.

What is it about people without children that drives them to buy a drum set for a toddler? A music box that plays just a tad off-key? DVDs with annoying theme songs that said child will want to watch over and over and over again? Is it pure innocence, or an act of revenge? What have I ever done to hurt them?

But on Dec. 26, I vow to become this new person who harbors no resentment, so I try to convince myself that the child loves the toy, that the toy was given to the child, and that the toy is making said child very, very happy. Not everything is about me, I tell myself, which is a bit of a lie because that very sentence contains the words “me,” “myself” and “I” within a four-word span.

But by year’s end, I have done what most thinking, reasoning,
self-improvement-oriented people attempt annually, and that is to take stock of my life and vow — not wish, whim or promise — to upgrade myself.

By the evening of Dec. 26, I came up with a bunch of resolutions with the aim of making myself a better fit for society. (Do not throw toys. Do not the unplug TV set in the middle of Frozen. Stop sobbing uncontrollably.) I even wrote them down.

Unfortunately, because it was not yet the new year, I had plenty of time for revisions. On Dec. 27, I decided sobbing was OK. It’s a natural release of emotion brought on by extenuating circumstances, and one really needs to let loose once in a while. So that came off the list.

And I am proud to say that I made it all the way until Dec. 30 before the first whirring little toy bounced down the front steps.

On Dec. 31, the TV came unplugged, but that was an accident. I tripped. And on Jan. 1, my hangover made it easy to give up coffee cake.

One good night’s sleep later, it was all behind me — the temper tantrums, the crying, the tripping, the overeating. I managed to roll out of bed with a smile on my face.

It truly was a brand new year! It lay stretched out before me like 364 empty pages of opportunity, good friends and good times.

I put on my most cheerful outfit and flung the door open wide. I breathed in the air of the future, rich and ripe with delightful surprises at every turn. I felt good. I felt better than good. I felt celebratory.

It was time for a few pieces of coffee cake!