by Elise Seyfried
Just have a feeling. 2016 is gonna be my year.
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions quite a while ago when it became clear that, however many times I put them on the list, I was NEVER actually going to learn to speak Italian, play chess or parallel park. My pantry remains a jumble of boxes and jars and cans arranged without rhyme or reason. My windows remain unwashed and my floors unwaxed.
My computer files are organized like a treasure hunt, with “work” folders containing recipes and “home” folders filled with Sunday School lesson plans. On a more personal level, I still have to have the last word in any argument with my husband Steve; I still interrupt entirely too much; I continue to nag the kids. It seems I am, as 2016 dawns, exactly as incompetent and imperfect as I was in 1976.
So why should this year be any different?
Because THIS year, I have an ingenious plan!
I will set the bar lower — a good bit lower. 2016 won’t see me clipping coupons and feeding the family for a pittance. It will, however, be the year I will save a whole dime per week by buying the house brand of yogurt at the store instead of the Dannon’s. (By next December I can treat the gang to $5.20 worth of fun.) I may not — ever — win any Good Housekeeping prize, but I will remember to clean out the lint filter in the dryer, at least once in a while, and haul out the vacuum cleaner at least bi-monthly (not to say I will vacuum, but I will haul it out so it makes it seem as if I did vacuum).
In the health and fitness department, I won’t put “start running again” down in ink anywhere, but I will happily vow to “walk from the house to the car on a regular basis.” I will use my paid-up yoga classes…to give as gifts to friends who actually practice yoga. I will dust off my Jane Fonda workout videos from the ‘80s. Mind you, I will not actually move off the sofa, but just watching the silly workout clothes and big hair of the filmed participants will give me a good belly laugh — and after all, don’t they say laughter is the best medicine?
In the relationship arena, I will add “and many more” to all my future Facebook birthday greetings. I will make every effort to call my sister Carolyn in Hawaii when it is NOT 3 a.m. her time. (Why is the six-hour time difference so darned hard to remember? In any event, why does she always have to be so crabby when she picks up the phone?) When I send a very personal email to a friend in need, I will not try not to accidentally cc my entire list of contacts.
In my dealings with my husband and children, I will only have the last word in my arguments when I’m right. I will only interrupt if what I have to say is more important. I will only nag the kids when they aren’t doing something they should be doing, or when doing something they shouldn’t. This plan is guaranteed to improve my behavior by at least 1-2 %. At this rate, 100% improvement is a mere 50-100 years away!
I will also pad the list with things I will, reliably, NOT do. This year, I vow:
Not to play, or watch, pro football. Not to vacation on Fiji. Not to skydive or jet ski or go spelunking. I promise I will not win an Academy Award, or a Nobel Prize or the lottery. No counted cross-stitch for me, or preserving the bounty from my garden. (Canned gout weed, anyone?) No checking the oil in the car. (After 43 years as a driver, I couldn’t begin to tell you how to even do that.)
It’s shaping up to be a great and extremely doable list. I anticipate success upon success. When I toast 2017, I’ll be able to look back with pride on the year when I kept every single one of my New Year’s resolutions.
And how many people can say that?
Elise Seyfried is Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland. She is also an actress, wife, mother of five and co-author (with husband, Steve) of 15 plays for children. She is not resolving to write any more plays in 2016 (obviously). She can be contacted through www.eliseseyfried.com.