I feel like I’ve given myself a bit of reputation. No, not for being “the guy you want to get under the bleachers at football games.” That was only eth one time, I swear! I was, um, a sophomore and didn’t know any better.
Who am I kidding? The only time I was ever under the bleachers, I was eight years old and hunting for quarters. I had a master plan that would culminate in buying a thousand year-old bag of Potato Crispys™ from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge while my dad coached high school volleyball.
Or maybe it was the Dunkin’ Sticks?
At any rate, the reputation I was referring to was actually for being a curmudgeonly old curmudgeon about the long, grey, frozen days of winter. Which, for those of us in the middle-to-upper parts of North America, have just officially gotten underway. Obviously, here, I’m not talking about the okay part of winter, those two weeks from the 20’s of December to the first few days of January, when everyone is cozy and stuffed with warmth, joy, and cheer—by which I mean copious volumes of holiday alcohol.
But alas, in the past few years, as the shine has worn off the new year and the Season as faded to memory, I’ve gotten as cranky as a retired accountant with a perfectly groomed, lush, green lawn…and a brand new teenage neighbor draw to it like an owl to a Tootsie Roll pop.
I’m talking cranky to the point where last year I even kind of made myself sick with the tremendous amount of whining I did in mid-January about the cold and ice and snow. I don’t think even my kids complained quite as much the last time I made them wash my car.
Which bring us to today, early January, 2015. It’s the time of year where everyone’s taking their new plans for personal achievement for a spin and testing to see if there’s a realistic shot in the Sixteen Icy Hells of Puratis of them being managed. And yes, that includes me. In general, I try not to be Senor Resolution Guy. In fact, I used to rail against New Year’s Resolutions altogether. But then, I was basically for most of my mid-twenties, I was King Contrarian for several Very Lame Reasons (including, but not limited to, dumb youth). In other words, I’d happily rail against just about anything traditional or culturally accepted by large numbers of people. See also: why I wore black shoes with white socks and refused to play golf, read the Harry Potter novels, or enjoy coffee until my thirties.
Thankfully, though, all that turned out to be nothing more than a two-decade fad and I’m all better now.
Which means I’m allowed to make New Year’s Resolutions without even being ashamed of myself.
This year, though, I’m not getting all crazy. I’m not adopting some wacky pinto bean diet or swearing on my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that I’ll workout (with a towel present at all times, naturally) every day for the next sixteen weeks. I mean, sure, I’d like to better myself and all, but that sort of over-reactive silliness just ends with hard feelings and gym memberships you can’t get out of without a four-year waiti gng period and a signed, notarized letter from the Senator in the state where your fitness place is incorporated—which is, conveniently, almost never your actual state of residence.
What I would like to concentrate on this year isn’t exactly Earth-shattering. I intend to write a little more (that goes double for here), complain a little less, spend more time with my kids when I can (especially while I still can, before they have no more need of me), read more books, and whenever possible, simplify our life. I want to focus on the experience of being in my early 40’s and less on the collecting of stuff that’s just going fill up space in my basement.
And, hell, let’s shoot for the moon: I’ll cut back on the beer a bit, while I’m at it.
In keeping with my list of basic goals for the year—which I just realized sounds disturbingly either like a self-help mantra or a country song—for the next few months, you’re not gonna hear any belly-aching out of me, no matter how much Winter! January and February dish out. Instead I’m going to build a bunch of fires, wear my fuzzy flannel Superman pants, and drink as many gallons of coffee and cocoa as it takes to keep my cheeks rosy and my demeanor sunny.
Because, sure, it’s going to be –15 degrees or something ridiculous tomorrow, but that’s no reason to have a bad attitude.
At least, not until we run out of marshmallows.
That’ll be when things start getting’ real.