Can we keep our New Year’s resolutions?

By Jeff Morris

Manotick Messenger

It’s that time of the year.

We are all going to be taking a self-inventory of ourselves and decide that it is time to improve our lives through the fruitless ritual of the New Year’s Resolution.

How many of you will sit and think about how to set yourself up for failure over the next week?

I know I do. I do it over, and over, and over. New Year’s Eve may as well be Groundhog Day. Okay, so maybe one of this year’s resolutions should be fewer movie references.

This week, I was thinking about writing something funny about New Year’s Resolutions. I looked up some of the more bizarre ones. Okay, so maybe my second resolution should be to be less predictable. And, honestly, as way out there as some of you tell me I can be in this column sometimes, the weird resolutions were way too out there. Even for me.

Maybe it would be fun to talk about all of the resolutions that we all make, and how we have failed miserably at each and every one of them.

Lose weight? I am eating meat and fat and green things with ranch dressing to try to Keto my way back to where I was two years ago. Things were going well until all the boxes of Pot of Gold showed up at Christmas. And the stuffing. And the cookies. And the, well, everything.

And if you have several beers – not Keto friendly – and decide to dip the Pot of Gold chocolates into the ranch dressing to stay in Ketosis, it doesn’t work.

Dress better? I guess I could, but everything I own has an Ottawa Redblacks, Ottawa Senators or Montreal Expos logo on it. Well, that’s not true. I have some Carleton Ravens, Denver Broncos and New York Yankees stuff too. Besides, dress shirts make me feel and look like 20 pounds of doorknob stuffed in a 10-pound pillow case.

Eat healthier? The only problem is that every time I seem really primed for this, McDonald’s brings back the McRib. Some people don’t like the McRib, but to me, it is the perfect intersection of pork, water, dextrose and spices, along with tangy barbecue sauce and onions on a fresh bun. And remember, even though there are ridges, don’t worry. There are no bones. You won’t chip your tooth. If Heaven has a McDonald’s drive-thru, they will always have the McRib promotion. Eternally.

Quit drinking? I rarely drink. In fact, people tell me I should drink more.

Quit smoking? Never started, so at least I have that one conquered.

As you work your way down the list of common resolutions, you wonder how it all started. Who was the one who first declared that he or she was going to get finances in order, spend more time with family, volunteer more, or spend less time on social media?

The tradition of the New Year’s Resolution dates way back. Our good friend Wikipedia tells us that the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans would begin each new year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

How cool would it be to have a month named after you?

Jefftober.

Note to self – another good resolution is to not let your ADHD take over your column.

In medieval times, knights would take a “peacock vow” each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. That would make a great addition to the annual Osgoode Medieval Festival.

And during Judaism’s New Year, one spends the time from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur reflecting on one’s wrongdoings and will both seek and offer forgiveness.

While New Year’s Resolutions are made around the world, they are most common in North America. Now, more people than ever make them, with research showing about 50 per cent of us taking part. Among those who make resolutions, about 25 per cent won’t make it through the first day, and another 25 per cent won’t make it through the first week. The odd time, they stick and become lifestyle changes.

As we look at New Year’s Resolutions and their themes and patterns, we can’t help but notice how they are all pointed inward.

What if we took a pay-it-forward approach and pointed resolutions toward family, friends or the community?

We could volunteer at a number of places. Volunteering can mean everything from collecting funds for the Cancer Society to coaching a kids’ team to delivering meals to shut-in seniors.

What if we were to all volunteer to read to or even visit and chat with seniors who live in retirement homes? That’s not an easy thing to do. A few years ago, the Diva and I visited a woman named Myrtle, who was in the Queensway-Carleton Hospital and had just celebrated her 97th birthday. Other than the neighbour who lived in the apartment across the hall from her, we were her only visitors over a three-week period.

That afternoon gave us one of the most challenging, rewarding and powerful experiences we have ever had.

At Christmas, we always say it’s better to give than to receive.

Let’s challenge ourselves to do it for a year.

Those would be resolutions we can strive to keep.

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