Growing up, my parents were not big fans of the New Year’s Eve celebrations; my Dad called it amateur night and they were more likely than not to spend it at home with us kids, eating snacks and watching Dick Clark by the light of the Christmas tree. We didn’t have any big New Year traditions or rituals; but when my brother ended up married to a Southern lady, we were all initiated into the eating-collard-greens-and-black-eyed-peas custom to ensure our wealth and luck in the upcoming year.
My sister-in-law also makes everyone write down a private prediction, to be read in 12 months’ time over that same meal. As I am one of the few people I know who actually loves black-eyed peas, I didn’t mind the food part; but I absolutely dreaded making my yearly predictions. Like in the classic horror story “The Monkey’s Paw”, I couldn’t see any good coming in me committing a “prediction” (wish) to paper…it would certainly be unsportsmanlike to guess at something bad happening, but to forecast something good felt dangerously close to tempting fate.
I always wrote an innocuous and unimaginative note (“We’ll have a lot of weather!”) and hoped that no one sensed my utter lack of enthusiasm for the game.
HA! HUGE LIE. I told everyone about my utter lack of enthusiasm for the game and squirmed openly. Now that we no longer live close enough to participate, I have comfortably settled back into my no-tradition-is-the-tradition way of celebrating the change in the calendar.
I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn that in addition to not making predictions about the upcoming year, I also refrain from making “resolutions”. Both of these things seem to add unnecessary pressure and stress–NOT how I want to go into any “new” situation. Like most everybody else, I am just doing the best I can on a day-to-day basis with the resources and information I have at any given time, and that feels like a good mark to hit.
However, listening to and reading about OTHER people’s resolutions or lack thereof has inspired me to write my own special list of what I am going to call my New Year ABSOLUTIONS, designed to free me from blame or guilt and release me from unnecessary obligations:
MY ABSOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR:
1) I absolve myself from the mandate to eat kale! A few years back KALE was identified as a mighty superfood that would enable me to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or something like that. I dutifully added kale to my regular routine, even though in my estimation it tastes, especially when cooked, like ass. To be fair, it is not overpowering enough to ruin a salad when mixed with other greens, but it was ruining my scrambled eggs on a consistent basis. So I am giving up kale.
2) I absolve myself from the need to apologize for my gluten sensitivity. Everybody likes to joke about how annoying and frankly unhinged “gluten free” people can be, but believe me, if I had a choice I would be typing this with just one hand because I’d have a big, fat New York bagel in the other. I LOVE GLUTEN but it no longer loves me and the physical consequences of eating it with any frequency are too great. In short, it already SUCKS TO BE ME when I say “No thank you” to your offer of pizza; I’m not going to add insult to injury by apologizing about it.
3) I absolve myself from feeling guilty about the fact that I have been an epic fail as a “soccer mom”. NO, I will NOT stand around in the freezing cold, blazing heat or even temperate clime to watch my kid PRACTICE soccer, especially when there is a lovely nature preserve bordering the fields for me to hike on. NO, I will NOT work at the concession stand; leave that to someone with 4 kids in the league who has to be there all day anyhow. NO, I will NOT collect money and put together a raffle basket because A) life is short and B) I would rather pay extra at sign up than have to participate in all of the God-forsaken fundraising. I will get my kid to practices and games on time in a clean uniform, I will buy the team photo and make sure my son exhibits good sportsmanship, unlike his mother. You’re very welcome.
4) I absolve myself from apologizing for how I look, one way or the other. I hate yoga pants and wear them exclusively when I am doing yoga—I won’t even run errands in them afterwards because they make me feel sloppy. I will not leave the house without mascara because my eyelashes are invisible without it and I like to look nice, weirdly. If I am wearing lipstick, I do not want to be accused of being “dolled up”. It is amazing to me that NO MATTER WHAT, people can find something to criticize about my appearance, whether I look “dolled up/too dressed up” (?) or conversely “like I haven’t been eating well” (??) or “exhausted” (okay, I am, but that isn’t helping!). I want to look as good as I can under any given circumstances and I’m not going to apologize for that; but if I look bad, it will not make me feel better to hear you say so.
5) I absolve myself from the need to “curb my enthusiasm”. Yes, I am a person who is easily excited and feels passionately about many things and no, I am not going to “calm down” until I’m dead. Deal with it or don’t, but do NOT try to make me feel embarrassed about it.
6) In fact, I will not let anyone tell me I don’t have the right to feel how I feel. There is overwhelming evidence that I am not an irrational or stupid person; therefore, if I am feeling sad or angry or suspicious or frightened there is a DAMN good reason and you trying to tell me otherwise is disrespectful and doesn’t change anything.
7) I absolve myself from “going along to get along”. This seems to me to be the most unreasonable solution to any problem. You start going along a path you don’t believe in and you could end up totally lost, or unable to turn back. Not for me.
8) I absolve myself of the need to “explain myself” to anyone. Judgment couched as concern is a transparent trigger; yes, it will make me angry and no, my life and choices are not your problem or business. They are mine and I am good with that.
9) I absolve myself from the hypocrisy of “yes” when I mean no. I will not let anyone tell me that “no” is the wrong answer if it is my honest response.
10) I absolve myself for the bad decisions and mistakes I will inevitably make. Everyone does, it is part of the process. I will not be paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying the “wrong” thing, because that is like living half a life. I will stand by my motto, “Today’s bad experience is tomorrow’s funny story” and try to remember to laugh at my foibles whenever I have the grace to do so.
In short, I absolve myself of the need to be anyone but myself and to act in any way other than how I am naturally inclined to act. And I extend these same rights and privileges to you! Wouldn’t this be a wonderful year if we could all mind our own damn business and let other people live as they want in peace???
That’s not a prediction, btw; just a wish.
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Originally Published on Your New Best Friend