Sunday, December 31, 2006

Resolution Absolution

Happy New Year! It's so clichéd for people to remark that time flies more quickly the older you get. But, man, it's true. Last New Year's Day was on Sunday, and I recall a conversation I had that day like it was yesterday. Or at least only a month or two ago.

My friend Leslie and I were getting music ready for Sacrament Meeting. That is one of the several responsibilities we share in our little branch. As she played prelude music, we wished each other a happy coming year. Leslie confessed that she didn't really make New Year's resolutions in January. September, or the beginning of the new school year, was when she was more likely to feel a beginning and set goals for herself.

Although I am quite sure there was a time I did not, I do not recall ever NOT making New Year resolutions. And last year I sheepishly told my dear friend that I had only one goal. To loose weight. I had looked it up online and was going to the local Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesday.

As I explained to Leslie, each previous year my goals consisted of such things as: Be more organized; Read my scriptures daily; Keep a cleaner house; Have more patience; Exhibit greater faith; Be a more consistent Visiting Teacher; Don't yell so much; Exercise 5 days a week . . . I always had around 3 to 5 goals, written down, ready to better myself. I never went more than 3 weeks working on these changes. So in 2006, I figured, if I couldn't be a better, more organized person at least I could be cute.

That was a hard goal. It took a level of discipline and control that is not generally part of my character. But I met it. By mid-September I had lost 30 pounds. Pleased with my looks, certainly. But even more than that, pleased that for the first time in my LIFE I made a New Year's resolution and kept it. It still seems like a miracle. Like someone else must have stepped in and done it for me. For I may be a lot of things, but I am not resolute.

Well, thinking of resolutions today, I figure making that goal last year should get me off the hook for a while. I made that goal at 32. So can I forget about goals until I'm 48? Until I'm 64? Do I only get a year or two off? I'm not sure. But let me tell you--excepting the ongoing goal I now have of maintaining this weight--I'm not writing down a thing for 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


When I think back on my growing-up years, my Christmas memories are filled with tradition. The night after we decorated our tree, my mom would let my brother and I get our sleeping bags and fall asleep under the lit tree, which looked very magical in a darkened room looking up through the branches. We made Swedish Tea Rings to bring to friends. We always had an advent calendar until the year we got one with chocolate in it. Having had the chocolate once, well. . .you can't go back to a dorky picture or saying, can you? From then on we burned an advent candle nightly and each had a small peppermint patty that were kept in a little red tin with a green lid.

When I was littler, my Christmas Eve was spent at my mom's and we would sit by candle and tree and lamp light. My mom had year round hurricane lamps hanging in several places in the living room and we always used lots of candles in our yule-tide decorations. We'd have Christmas music playing and my mom would read some of the Christmas story-books that we owned. Nothing felt more appropriate to me on that holiest of nights--the candles created such a soft glow it was in my mind as close as I'd ever get to a midnight mass.

As we got older, the holiday routine changed. We spent Christmas Eve with my Dad and came home Christmas Day. Those Christmas Eves were the best. Make-Your-Own-Sandwiches was the dinner menu, and then we'd decorate the tree to the sounds of Johnny Mathis crooning Winter Wonderland. I'd often have brought my flute, and would play, and we'd also sing carols accompanied by my dad on guitar. Christmas morning was merry and bright with stockings filled with oranges, chocolate and toothbrushes.

The first year we were married, I was frustrated with the lack of any traditions practiced. #1 was 2 months old and Larry seemed uninterested in doing anything special for someone who couldn't focus on anything more than a few feet away. He was probably right, and I am not sure whether I was anxious to start traditions for my daughter or prolong my own childhood another season or two.

13 years later we are steeped in what I hope the kids will fondly remember as a traditional season. We sing carols with Larry on the guitar. We have special Family Home Evening lessons on the Savior. We decorate the house, and bake, and read, and listen to music. We prepare gifts for teachers and friends and gather goodies from our baking for our neighbors. Even wrapping gifts feels special to me when we all do it together. I am not sure which of the things we do will stick out in the kids' memories, which things they will try to bring into their own families when they are grown. It's funny how the insignificant or small things are at times the ones with the most meaning. For me, I am always sure that my children's stockings each contain, if little else, a toothbrush.