Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve

It's New Year's Eve - It's the day that people fret and stress over because most of them feel as if they need to make a "New Year's Resolution". Half of the issue is making the resolution. The other half is suffering the angst of knowing you won't keep it.
I've made resolutions. I can't think of any that I actually kept. The problem is that I usually forget the resolution I made as soon as something happens that causes me to forget that I made a resolution not to do that particular thing anymore.
If I made the resolution to lose weight, invariably I would get a box of chocolates on Valentines day... It would've been rude not to eat them, right? Well, of course it would have been, so once the top was off of the box, it was over.
If I made a resolution not to curse anymore, someone or something would push my buttons, twang my last nerve, twist my chain, or tangle my undies and that would be the end of -that- resolution.
If I made a resolution to quit smoking, unforgiveable things happened in mass quantities, and of course the only cure for a bad day was a good cigarette.
I've resolved not to smoke, not to curse, not to over eat, not to be rude, not to be gullible, not to be a fool, not to overspend, not to be gluttonous, not to be wasteful, not to be lazy, not to overdo it, not to underestimate, not to be taken advantage of, not to fall into the abyss of self pity, not to be this way or not to do this or that... You've all made the same ones, and most of you have broken them.
So - what is the answer to the dilemma? Everyone makes a resolution, right? I've finally decided that the best resolution to make is NOT TO MAKE ONE.  But that's almost like having Christmas without presents or packages or bows, boxes, or bags... Yeah, yeah, I know. Christmas DOES come from the heart, but explain to a kid that "Your Christmas this year is that I love you..." So, on New Year's eve, we really should consider all the things we aren't doing right, and all the things we are doing wrong... We should consider how we can do things better, and how we can make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. We should give serious thought to what it means to be happy, and give thought to what it means to have what we have... and what would our lives be like if we had less. At some point you'd have to realize that what you do have is probably more than what you really need.
All winter I've complained that my house is cold because my heat pump just doesn't do a good job of keeping it warm. But I sat down and thought about a picture I had taken of the house my granny lived in before I was born. It sits, even now, on the side of the highway between Athens and Greensboro, Georgia. It's covered in Kudzu vines. I, along with my cousins, stopped one day and managed to tear away enough vines to be able to get the door open. Door - planks of wood nailed side by side to a piece of wood. You could see through the cracks... Once we got the door open we all stuck our heads inside and wondered aloud how a mother, and her son and youngest daughter could have lived in such a place. The walls didn't exist, per se. There were wooden studs, and you could see the planks that were the siding, and you could see daylight between them. In a few places there were slabs of old cardboard nailed to them and you knew that even though the cardboard had been replaced time after time through the years, that there had never been anything better, or more substantial to serve as walls inside that humble abode.  The roof was the ceiling. You could look up and see the rafters, and beyond the rafters, you saw the underside of the metal roofing that had been the only thing to protect them from the rain, the snow, the blazing sun... and you could see tiny little holes where the nails had rusted away and left tiny little holes that let in spears of sunlight. Nowhere was there a sign of drywall, or insulation. In the living room that also served as a kitchen, was a meager little fireplace. In the two bedrooms there was nothing to provide heat. And in the bedrooms the walls were equally drafty, knotholes of the pine planks had fallen into, or out of the room, and chinks in the planks would have let in all kinds of drafts, and insects. The floors were wood, not tongue and grooved, but planks cut and nailed side by side to the joists below, and over time the wood had dried and shrunk and pulled apart so that there were large gaps in the flooring. My sister told me that when they spent the night there once, that they were able to lay on pallets on the floor and see the stars through the roof. Granny had an "ice box" that should not be confused with a refrigerator. It was a box that held a block of ice, and any food that could spoil was kep on a shelf below the ice so that it wouldn't spoil as fast. This morning Granny had gotten up and fired up the wood stove and fried up a hearty breakfast of ham that had gone over just a bit... But as she was so poor, that was all she had, and all that she could offer, so that was all they could eat.
I look around at my walls, and I can't see daylight through any holes in them. I can look up and see my white ceiling, and my nice ceiling fan that whirs and stirs the air. I look down at my floor and I can't see the dirt beneath my house through the holes in the plank floors. I can't see anything through the linoleum, carpet and oak flooring...From my computer, where I can send letters or comments to people I want to communicate with,  I can see my refrigerator that is keeping my food fresh, and safe. I can walk over and get ice cubes out of the freezer, or pour a cold glass of milk that won't go sour for a couple of weeks at least,  and take out the pork roast that I slow roasted in my oven last night, and I can make a sandwich after I heat the pork in the microwave. I can go over and turn the thermostat up a little today and keep the house cozy enough since it isn't freezing outside. If it were any colder, I could plug in a small ceramic heater that I borrowed from work, and I'd be fine. When it rains, it won't come through my roof. When an insect gets in my house it hasn't come through a hole in the floor.
I haven't any right to complain.

So, my resolution this year

 #1 : Be thankful and grateful.
Thankful for what I have. A home. Food. A job. Good health. A car. Wonderful kids. Beautiful grandkids. Family that I love and that love me. Friends that I can count on. Enough and Enough to share occasionally. Good sense. Common sense. Peace in my life. Independence.

Grateful for what I don't. Huge bills, unrealistic obligations or commitments, an unhappy marriage, personal tragedies (Cancer or other devastating illness, critically ill family members, special needs children or grandchildren, etc.)

Resolution #2:
Remember # 1.

Happy New Year.
Make your resolution to have what you need, to be rid of what you don't, grateful for all that you don't have and to be thankful for what you do.