Making and breaking New Year’s resolutions

Southern Hospitality

Last year Russell made it four days into his New Year’s resolution. So what if I made it for him — or, strongly suggested it. (My own New Year’s resolution was a really simple one: just try, once again, to keep my resolutions from the year before, because they’re always the same and I never keep them — get organized, lose weight, eat healthy, be a better person, yada, yada).

He had been getting on my nerves with all of his pessimism in 2013, so I said, “Russell, I have an idea for your New Year’s resolution. My mother always said if you can’t say something positive, then don’t say anything at all.” He answered with, “Sure is going to be a quiet year.” This struck me as funny as all get out.

At first I thought there was no way he could possibly keep that promise. But every time he started to complain, whine or lament, he corrected himself.

If he said something negative, he turned it into a positive. “Daggone, I won’t get to play golf Saturday. It’s going to be freezing. But, at least I get to sleep in.” Good point — but, really? Did he say that?

The next day he said, “The light in my car says ‘Check engine.’ That’s OK, I always enjoy chatting with Randy at the auto shop.” I thought I was hearing things.

I was starting to get worried. This was not my husband. It couldn’t be. Resolution or not, he’d never acted this way continuously — cheerful, positive, hopeful — in all the years of our marriage. But on the fourth day, it did get old and he cracked.

As you know, the humongous post-Christmas sales were just fabulous. If I had one e-mail that said 75 percent off, I had two dozen. The newspapers were stuffed with sales inserts and the TV was blaring 24/7 with other sales. One place even had 90 percent off.

Well, there’s only one thing I like better than a good shoe sale and that’s a good post-Christmas sale, so I went a little bonkers and bought lots of good stuff. I mean, when you see $15 red candles for $3 that are only one aisle over from the almost-identical Valentine red candles, brand new, at $15 or more, it’s hard not to go a little bonkers.

But the candles, potpourri, soap, notepads and ornaments aren’t what spun Russell into a nosedive with a “no-way-on-this-positive-thing-another-minute” downward spiral. It was the gorgeous wreath that I found, marked down from $39.95 to $11 (including tax) that I thought I’d hidden in the trunk, but he found.

Still, it was gorgeous. Lush green, silky, totally realistic-looking with huge red shiny apples and tightly formed, perfect pinecones. And I didn’t own one even close to that magnificent. Plus, at $11 it wasn’t going to break the bank.

But it wasn’t the money that bugged him. It was more of a space issue. Remember one of my perpetual resolutions — to get organized? OK, now you see the problem.

So this year we’ve made a pact: I’m stuck with Russell’s negativity and he’s stuck with my wreath collection (nine or 10, but who’s counting?) and my sales shopping. Our joint New Year’s resolution is to simply live and let live.

As soon as he recovers from my after-Christmas shopping this year and starts speaking to me again, I’m going to tell him.


– Ann Ipock

Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller