This year seemed exceptionally long and laborious because of the incessant political advertisements and ongoing economic turmoil.

Compounding the challenges of annual finality is an inexplicable ritual we practice, the profligate New Year’s Eve celebration. This ritual typically re-examines the previous 12 months and culminates in a hasty array of personal resolutions.

Why do this regardless of the joy or pain we’ve endured during the previous year, and compound the stress by imposing oftentimes vague “must dos” on ourselves? It’s over, no redo’s, so why not casually continue life’s journey without ostentatious protocol involving expensive fanfare and a laborious rehashing of many things we’d probably like to forget. Naturally, it can’t be that easy.

During the opening week of the New Year, news sources nationwide typically rehash practically everything from the previous year while offering their analysis about why these events occurred. I don’t need strangers authoritatively advising me to revisit specific previous happenings and suggesting what I need to do for the upcoming year. It may or may not have been a good year for everyone; forgetting about it should be a personal option. If these newscasters are so intuitive, maybe they should offer decisive information about specific events regarding the year ahead.

A fundamental part of our hedonistic holiday tradition involves the composition of resolutions. For me, this ritual became an extensive inventory of overdue activities producing additional stress during the coming year. I found a list of 10 “must dos” from 1999. As I recall, on the morning of Jan. 1, 2000 I didn’t give a rip about most of them.

That was a pivotal moment initiating an era of stressless New Year’s Eve rituals for me-no resolutions. I proudly profess to having kept that one. I no longer make an inventory of New Year’s contemplations, which leaves me flexible and not locked into anything. I’m retired and consider that part of the achievement. Here are some current considerations to contemplate for removal from you resolution list, if you insist on making one.

On New Year’s Day, making phone calls often topped my list, and the number of people I’d been meaning to call over the years kept mounting. But a thought always entered my mind as I dialed their phone numbers. Why haven’t they called me? My number isn’t unlisted? Are they having a similar contemplation about the last time we chatted, which was during a high school reunion? Honestly, some people become unphoneworthy.

Notwithstanding your age, appearance or fitness level, diet and exercise also spring to the forefront at the onset of each New Year. The issues of weight loss and appearance became inseparable partners over the years, and local health clubs and hocus-pocus weight loss businesses bank on it. If we had a dime for every dollar wasted on the New Year barrage of bogus weight loss and alleged health programs, we’d have a stash of cash.

Statistically, about 72 percent of people jumping into one of these programs bail out on their glamorous post-holiday fitness surge within a month after New Year’s. What else could offer the same superficial gratification as going to the gym the week after New Year’s with extra pounds around your waist, a chest cold and burning guilt for having eaten like a blue-ribbon pig during the holidays.

Some folks grasp the impractical belief that months of nutritional devastation combined with negligible exercise is reversible with several trips to the gym and a few hours of forced physical inconvenience, or simply taking a few miracle weight loss pills. That’s the recipe for a post-holiday disaster. Being 10 pounds over the “goal weight” agreed upon with your doctor last summer worsens the problem.

Why not consider this habitual inspiration concocted while watching TV as the big ball plummets in Times Square; a drastic financial reformation. Simply cut all but one of your credit cards in half, then call and cancel the others the moment the issuer opens for business. Your perceptively conceived course of fiscal redirection will become even more viable the moment you get a glimpse of the charges racked up during your holiday spending spree. You’ll also be spared the regret associated with compulsive purchases presumed to provide perpetual gratification.

Regardless of your plan for the New Year one thing is certain, 2010 has been a distinctive year, and 2011 is shaping up to be even more unwieldy.

Be safe, and we’ll meet here first thing next year.

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