I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions.
It’s not that I don’t believe in them. It’s that the idea of carrying through on selected promises for 12 consecutive months scares the heck out of me.
Last year, however, I managed to tweak out a few. And I’m happy to report that I failed on every one.
I didn’t run an ultramarathon race or magically become a kinder or more giving person. I didn’t give five percent of my earnings to charity or volunteer at a homeless shelter. I didn’t stop eating whole bags of pretzels in one sitting while watching TV series on DVD or clean the kitty litter before the cats pooped on the floor. And I certainly didn’t compliment at least one person each day.
But it’s a new year and the resolution slate has been wiped clean. But before I made more promises to myself that I probably won’t keep, I needed to know one thing: What kind of masochist came up with the idea of New Year’s resolutions anyways?
Rome to Puritans
Supposedly, New Year’s resolutions originated back to Rome around the time of Julius Caesar. Most of these were trite and predictable: To be a better neighbor. To treat others with kindness.
Fast forward about 1,400 years to a group of shabbily dressed Puritans trying to etch out a living in obstinate Colonial America, and resolutions suddenly reemerged. And though the religious and social conforms of the two eras were vastly different (imagine Julius Caesar as a Puritian!), the resolutions were basically the same: To become a better community member. To treat others with kindness, yada, yada, yada.
It seems that no matter when or where, people make the same types of resolutions year after year, century after century. Either we never learn or we learn so well that we repeat our best lessons over and over.
Why we don’t resolve
I decided to find out what folks around town were resolving and was relieved to discover their responses a bit more original than that of the Romans or the Puritans.
Many, however, stated that don’t make resolutions.
“I don’t usually do that,” Michael Clingingsmith, of Eagle River, said. “I try to live a healthy lifestyle all year.”
His wife, he added with a laugh, is a fitness instructor and makes him work out regularly.
Dan Packard, of Eagle River, also doesn’t make resolutions.
“I don’t see a reason for it,” he said.
Former Chugiak High student Logan Frost, who now lives Outside, summed it up well.
“My New Year’s resolution is to not make resolutions,” he said.
Pam Grasse, of Eagle River, had a different and more honest take.
“If you make them, you end up disappointing yourself,” she said. “If you fail, you end up feeling bad. It puts more pressure on you.”
What we do resolve
Jitters employee Heather Johnson resolves not to have any alcohol for the year.
“None at all,” she said.
She thinks this will be easy.
“I already did it for 10 months,” she said.
The Jensen family made age-appropriate resolutions.
“Mine is to leave work at work and spend more time with family and friends,” said Lucinda Jensen.
“I will play will Samantha (little sister) more,” Jessica, 8, said. “And I’ll make my bed.”
“I’m going to practice my letters,” Holly, 4, said, throwing her arms excitedly in the air.
Cindy Burrill, of Eagle River, doesn’t believe in resolutions. Instead, she makes intentions.
“I’m looking for a year of being real,” she said.
She’s confident she’ll be able to accomplish this.
“It’s a goal, not a resolution,” she added.
Judith Lindenfelser, of Eagle River, made two predictions. One of these had to do with writing.
“I have a project that I want finished by this coming fall,” she said.
Ryan Sponaugle, 3, didn’t understand what a resolution was but still threw one out. It turned out to be the simplest yet most profound one of the day.
“I want to learn,” he said, and his voice was quiet but very, very serious.
Contact Cinthia Ritchie at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.