Make your resolutions, but make them realistic

It seems the older I become, the more quickly time goes by. I can still remember how excited I was to become a teenager. Then I waited for my sweet 16th birthday. Of course, becoming 18 was exciting. In my day, we could go to bars at that age. I remember Club 45 in Clintonville and the Sha Bon here in Shawano. Age 21 was another milestone.

None of my other birthdays seemed too significant until I turned 50. I was working at Citizen’s Bank and my co-workers made sure I would long remember that day. They gifted me with a walker, prune juice, thick glasses, a heating pad, a shawl and over-the-hill birthday cards. Since that time, birthdays come and go. Sometimes I actually have to stop and figure out how old I am. Age is only a number now, and I am happy to celebrate every new year.

Later today, I am going to get out my checkbook and fill in 2018 on several of my checks. Old habits die hard, and after writing 2017 for a year, it will take a little time to remember the change.

I am also going to start thinking about my New Year’s resolutions. I wonder how many of you make them. Did you know the custom of making them is said to have begun some 4,000 years ago? The Ancient Babylonians have been credited with being the first to hold New Year’s celebrations, not in January, but in mid-March when crops were planted.

During the celebration they made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If the Babylonians kept their word, their pagan gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year.

For early Christians, New Year’s Day became the traditional time to think about mistakes and wrongdoings and to resolve to do better in the future. In 1740, Pastor John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as Watch Night services, they included readings from scriptures and hymn singing.

Although the tradition had religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are primarily a secular practice. Most no longer make promises to the gods, but rather to themselves. We think about ways we want to make self-improvements. Of course, that means we have to be totally honest with ourselves. We need to accept that fact that we can improve and become a better person.

Some take making New Year’s resolutions very seriously. Some think of a new year as a second chance, a time to establish reachable goals. Some take a light-hearted look at resolutions. If you still feel the resolutions you made last year and abandoned mid-year are worth another try, then go for it.

I have found making realistic resolutions is important. Don’t set yourself up for failure. For example, one of my resolutions will be to eat healthier. I can and should do that. I’m not going to say lose weight, even though I certainly need to. Instead, I am going to resolve to eat healthier. If I do that, hopefully weight loss will be one of the benefits.

My dad made New Year’s resolutions every year. I believe he successfully accomplished some of his goals. However, there was one resolution he made each and every year, and that was to write a book. I know his intentions were good, but it was a goal he didn’t accomplish. I so wish he had.

I hope some of you will think about writing, not necessarily a book, but perhaps a journal. You really don’t need any special writing skills to put your thoughts down on paper — memories of a special holiday, a family recipe, traditions you enjoy, or simply how you spent your day. Someday, when you are just a memory, your loved ones will love reading your written words. They won’t care if they are handwritten or typed, in a notebook or on a computer disk. The precious gift will cost nothing more than your time.

Recent polls show more than 50 percent of Americans vow to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends in the coming year. Over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight, so weight loss is another popular resolution. It is said on average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good. Maybe 2018 will be the year you begin to enjoy a smoke-free life. There is help and support for those who want to stop drinking. Some resolutions involve a career change. Think about what your goals are, reduce them to writing and monitor your progress. Good luck.

Happy 2018 to all of you!

Question: In what year was the Wallrich Agency established and who was its founder? (Answer on Page A5.)

Clothesline Conversation Answer: Wallrich Agency was established in 1925; the founder was Casper Wallrich.

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.