you say you want a resolution…

Give it up!

That’s the official New Year’s rallying cry. As usual, everyone is once again vowing to change this or that, to give up one vice or another, to abstain from at least one bad habit, to somehow improve, to throw out the old and ring in the new…

One guy I know, let’s call him “Knuckles” because he threatened to use his knuckles on my chin if I used his real name, says he’s going to giving up gambling for 2009. Now, you should know that Travis, er Knuckles is the kind of guy that would bet on just about anything: from how much exact change someone has in their pocket to who holds the record for the world’s longest beard.

“Knuckles,” I said, “how are you going to accomplish this feat? You’ll never make it through the entire year without placing a single wager.”

“Sure I will. I bet a guy twenty-five bucks that I could.”

Without the benefit of such convoluted logic, the rest of us have a difficult enough time with our own resolutions. Several people I know pledge each and every December to lose ten pounds the following year. If every time they swore to lose that amount, they actually did it, these folks would average six pounds each.

I, too, am a resolution person. I’ve been making them since 1982—the year I gave up Wacky Wafers. Remember them? They were these quater-sized discs of artificially colored and flavored “foodstuff” that tasted more like cardboard than the various fruits they were supposedly made to taste like. The flavors included were watermelon, strawberry, banana, orange, and greenapple.

I had just turned thirteen that year and giving up Wacky Wafers wasn’t easy. Somehow, I made it through to June and I was feeling that I just might go the rest of the year without my cherished wafers.

Enter Lisa Tresh. Lisa had chestnut-brown hair, emerald-green eyes, and good-golly-Miss-Molly, honest-to-goodness breasts. Needless to say, I loved her.

We were on a field trip at the San Francisco Mint and Lisa was sucking on a Wacky Wafer.

She said, “I’m tired of this watermelon flavor and I want a banana one. If any of you guys want it, all you have to do is get it.”

Having the glorious luck of sitting one row in front of her, I kissed her and she slipped me her Wacky Wafer. Like Lisa, the wafer was warm, sweet, and soft. That was the end of that year’s resolution.

It was then that I learned the secret to resolution-making: be realistic. It’s easy to announce in December that you’re going to give up something, yet it is quite another to actually pull it off.

For over twenty years, I’ve adhered to the philosophy that “one can more easily give up that which does not matter that much to one in the first place.” Thus, on various New Year’s Eves, I’ve sworn off:

  • Watching golf on TV
  • Doing my Chewbacca impersonation
  • Rollerblading
  • Wearing paisley
  • Yodeling
  • Baking a wedding cake

Last year, I gave up driving on the wrong side of the road. Made it through to the end of the year, too!

But for 2009, the first full year of my forties, which is closer to my fifties than to my twenties, I realized I need to start getting serious about my life. I decided that it was time for me to give up something more substantial. I would make some sort of personal sacrifice, to benefit not only myself, but to also make this planet a more wonderful place to live.

Let’s see. I don’t smoke and don’t do recreational drugs. Sweets? Although I do admit to having a sweet tooth, I’ve never been a dozen-donuts-for-breakfast kinda guy so giving up sugar, while certainly not easy, wouldn’t be that much of a concession.

Instead of “giving something up,” how about doing something?

Maybe I’ll read everything the Brontë sisters ever wrote. I’ll train for the Boston maration. I’ll recycle my rainwater and start composting. I’ll spend more time with family and friends. I’ll take up yoga AND pilates. I’ll learn to play the guitar. I’ll take the bus to work…

On second thought, maybe I’ll just give up Wacky Wafers.

Willy Wonka's Wacky Wafers

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