New Year Resolutions

New Year

by Margaret Watson

Bill Vaughan said ‘An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.’  Although people have been celebrating New Years since the ancient Babylonians, at least 4,000 years ago, I don’t suppose you have yet thought about New Year 2008 unless you are either Scottish or one of those organised people who have already got a new diary and dates filled in for the next six months.

Personally I am using scraps of paper and waiting for my husband to buy me the expensive diary I want for Christmas, though knowing him he will say that I should wait until the prices come down in the New Year. Or perhaps you are going to a party. Have you decided what to wear? How will you get there? How will you get back? Even taxi drivers want some time off. Are you having people round? What food will you give them? Cold turkey wouldn’t be safe by then and the mince pies might have all been eaten up.

Then comes the question of Resolutions. Some people take this quite seriously, at least for the first few days – I will give up smoking, start cycling to work, stop biting my nails, get up half an hour earlier and all the rest. And the guilt that comes when you light up that cigarette, find yourself nibbling at a rough piece of nail or decide that it is just too wet to cycle and too cold to get up. Why go through that? So don’t make that kind of resolution unless there is just a tiny chance that you will be able to keep them. My sister has resolved to lose weight every year since she was 16. She is now a grandmother. Think of the torture she has put herself through over the years.

It is much better all round to make my daughter Liz’s kind of resolution. Last year she decided to give up cabbage.

"But you never eat cabbage," we all said.

"Yes I know" she smiled at us, "But I’ll keep my resolution long after the rest of you have forgotten what it was you resolved to do."

This year she is going to give up two things – pickled onions and herrings.

I f you really do want to make a resolution make sure that everyone knows about it. That way they will either be supportive and help you to keep your resolve or, in order to trick you into breaking it, they will offer you ever more doughnuts and chocolates. Either way you benefit.

I f you can’t think of a resolution of your own look up the topic on the web for some really silly ideas e.g. Watch more television. You might, though this is unlikely judging by present output, have been missing some really good programmes. I f that doesn’t suit you how about ‘Have a (or another) baby’. Even if you don’t succeed with this won’t you have fun trying.

The best resolution of all though is probably ‘Stop making resolutions’. After all Helen Fielding, the writer of Bridget Jones’ Diary knew what she was talking about when she said that we can’t be expected to start New Year Resolutions on New Years Day.

Smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment,in order to ease your hangover.  I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second.

To which I can only add - or even later, such as next year.