Happy January 2017! The New Year is upon us. The trees from Christmas have gone dark. Lights from neighborhoods shine only from living room windows, street lamps and front porches. Stores offer cheerful red and green clearance items and make way for Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day and Easter decor. Gym memberships, health clubs, and nutritional clubs offer half price and lowered fees for the next few weeks.
For me, the holidays are filled with family gatherings, reunions, Christmas plays, year-end reports, month-end processes, goat deworming protocols and bonfires. There are speaking engagements, piñatas, compiling family calendars and knitting. And fun socks…did you expect any less?
Now in my 10th year of making a calendar, I track over 90 birthdays and anniversaries. Thanks to Shutterfly.com, this calendar will continue (as long as my cousins submit photos before November, I’ll keep doing the calendars).
I didn’t make this year’s piñata. I cheated and bought a ready-made one that looked like a cupcake. Between work and the above list, I ran out of time (see the above list plus add-in travel to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving). I think it was alright. That cupcake would not break! The youngest child always gets to hit the piñata first, then others get to swing at it based on their ages. This year, both baby M and her mother had opportunities to swing blindfolded at the blasted toy-and-candy-filled-cardboard vault-on-a-rope. Who knew that this piñata tradition, started by my late Aunt Allene in the 1960s would continue now? She handed the piñata bat to me a decade ago, and I continue it with pride (even if I did have to buy one).
After helping to clean-up the fellowship hall, Jim, Kelly and I burned more brush from the goat pasture. We provided pyrotechnics for a group nearby and then, I was up until after midnight polishing a sermon for New Year’s Day service.
Over the past few years, my resolution has been, “I resolve to make no resolutions.” I was quite successful at keeping it too. Yet this year, I realized that a resolution resolving to do nothing leaves me vulnerable to accepting the decisions made by someone else. So, I challenged others to be bold and courageous in their 2017 resolutions, make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound). Use the buddy system and have someone hold you accountable for your resolution. My resolution for 2017 is to read at least 4 books on positive mental health (like “The Happiness Advantage”) so that I can share with others and connect with them during times of their loneliness. Connecting with others in our communities helps to nourish the soul by providing love and understanding.
To many, 2016 was filled with hate, violence, loss, despair, and division. There’s no doubt that life is full of challenges. Jim and I often face disappointments that we simply do not share on social media because they are not social. We strive to be the best people we can be for each other and for our family and friends. Sure, we fall short and are far from perfect, but we keep striving. In graduate school, I had a professor who taught that we strive to overcome obstacles 80% of the time so that we can thrive 20% of the time. Those 20% “YAY” moments mean so much more when the obstacles we overcome are seemingly insurmountable.
I challenge each of you to find joy, peace and love in 2017. Make SMART resolutions…start small and do your part. If you make promissory notes, pay your bills. If you agree to be part of an organization, show up and be present. If you join a health club, be active.
Live up to your obligations, be good to your families and friends… And wear fun socks.