In one year and out the other

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Me neither. What’s the big rush? And what’s the connection between New Year’s and resolutions? Why can’t we make resolutions on Memorial Day or July Fourth? Unless you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to stop procrastinating, why not wait until Labor Day to make the resolution? Not Labor Day of next year – Labor Day 2013.

I’ve never had much luck with New Year’s resolutions. Since I always end up breaking them, I decided one year to make reverse resolutions. I resolved to gain weight and exercise less, hoping that I would break those resolutions the way I had broken all the others. Wouldn’t you know it, they turned out to be the two resolutions I had no problem keeping. I not only gained weight and stopped exercising, I started smoking and stopped bathing.

Everybody likes to think big on New Year’s: “This is the year I’ll stop drinking.” “This is the year I’ll stop smoking.” “This is the year I’ll stop betting on horses with the kids’ lunch money.” “This is the year I’ll stop embezzling from widows and orphans.” “This is the year I’ll stop laundering money for the Mexican drug lords.” “This is the year I’ll stop serial killing.” Suddenly, the smoking and the overeating don’t seem so bad.



If you are going to make a resolution, don’t try more than one at a time, and make it something simple: “I won’t ask for extra bacon on my cheeseburgers this year,” or, “I won’t swear in front of the kids at the breakfast table,” or, “I’ll declare only one of the dogs as a dependent on my tax return.”

You’ll never stick to your resolution if you bite off more than you can chew. Sure, it’s easy to say you’ll stop stealing other people’s identities on Jan. 1, and maybe you will for a week or two. But then you say to yourself, “Maybe I’ll just cut down,” and, before you know it, you’re rummaging through trash cans looking for credit card numbers, and calling people to tell them they’ve won a prize if only they’ll confirm their birthday and Social Security number. Next thing you know, another New Year’s resolution is down the tubes.

It’s easy to see why you might want to make big changes in your life after getting hammered on sparkling wine and sitting through “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” once again. Every year you realize that Seacrest is introducing more and more acts that you have never heard of before. You look at some completely unknown pop star performing a hit song you’ve never heard and wonder, “Who is that?” Then you think, “I have stuff in my freezer that is older than that kid.”

Every year you wonder more and more why thousands of people want to stand in Times Square in the freezing cold to watch a ball drop. If the ball went up, well, that would be worth the trip.

No, actually, that would be pretty dumb, too. How did that become our New Year’s tradition? Why isn’t going bowling on New Year’s Eve our tradition? Or walking around the house three times backward, or wearing powdered wigs, or going to bed earlier than usual? Every year I think that is going to be my new tradition. It’s getting harder and harder to stay up to welcome the new year.

Of course, I get up earlier each year, too. At this rate, someday I’ll come full circle. I’ll go to bed at 5 in the afternoon and wake up at midnight. Actually, that may be my new resolution.

Jim Mullen’s new book, “Now in Paperback,” is now in paperback. You can reach him at jimmullenbooks.com.

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