Since early on New Year’s Day, I have been inundated with phone calls and emails asking why I did not write a New Year’s Resolution column.  Okay, inundated may be a bit of an overstatement, although I did get a call from a neighbor requesting that I keep my cat off of his porch, and I did receive an email from a trusted associate offering me a free credit report and a set of steak knives.

The fact is, I have always waited until January 2nd or even January 3rd before declaring my resolutions.  There are a couple of reasons for this practice.  The first of these is that it allows time for the crowd to clear out a bit.  There are no new things under the sun, and you can bet that if you have vowed to do so-and-so, about a million other folks have made the same declaration.  If you don’t believe me, go down to the track early on New Year’s Day and try to take a few laps.  If you arrive extra early and draw a low number, you might get out onto the asphalt by nightfall.  But if you wait a day or two before kicking off your new physical fitness regimen, you will only encounter about seven people down there all day, and two of them are seeding and fertilizing the field.

The second reason I wait is that, simply, it is tough for me to keep coming up with new resolutions, and I need more time than most people to make my list.  I am on the wrong side of fifty, and all of the easy ones have been used up by now.  And the hard ones are, well, hard.  Plus, low-hanging fruit such as vowing to refrain from bungee-jumping, walking on burning coals, or trying to catch bullets in my teeth have been arbitrarily declared off-limits by my wife.  Her position on this matter is that if there is no way I was ever going to do something anyway, then I can’t use not doing it as a resolution.  I don’t know where she gets some of this stuff—there must be a rulebook out there somewhere—but I can tell you for a fact that the implementation of this particular regulation has certainly cut down on my range, and the decrees of change that I do manage to make these days are not nearly as interesting as they once were.

Still, I need to come up with something.  Otherwise, you may get the idea that I am perfect, and I don’t want to give that impression, because it would be demoralizing for you.  So here is this year’s list of my New Year’s Resolutions.  If you see some that you like better than your own vows, or if you have already given up on yours because they were not a good fit, then feel free to pick and choose from mine.  It’s not like I’m going to be using them much, anyway.

  1. I pledge that I will eat a slice of my sister’s home made fruitcake.  No, I mean it.  Every year, that freight truck pulls up in front of the house in early December, and the poor driver struggles to get his holiday burden up on the porch.  In the past, I have built a barbecue pit with these loaf-shaped objects, shored up a leaning mobile home, and have even chunked a few of the festive offerings into the mighty, muddy Etowah (I am almost certain they are biodegradable).  But this Christmas, I held on to my fruitcake, and at some point before next year’s model arrives, I am going to sit down with a hacksaw and dig in.
  2. I promise that I will go to the dentist and get all of my dental work repaired after munching on the fruitcake.
  3. I vow this year to eat nothing that claims to be “healthier than you might have thought,” which is an actual blurb I saw recently on a bag of snacks.  What, exactly, does this phrase mean?  Eating a car bumper could be healthier than you thought, too, but that doesn’t mean you should do it.
  4. In the spirit of giving and brotherly love, I swear to give my cat, my free credit report, and a set of steak knives to my neighbor.
  5. I guarantee to quit driving if the price of gasoline creeps above $4 per gallon.  However, if honoring this commitment is not possible because I want to go somewhere, I pledge to give up eating fruitcake as an alternative.
  6. I affirm that I will not dine in establishments named Eats or sleep at inns called Beds, both of which I did during 2009.  Yeah, I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
  7. I swear I will not talk politics, religion, or sports with anyone I am not married to or shared parents with.  I mean it, this time.
  8. I will not repeat the error of assuming that the French delicacy called sweetbreads is either sweet or made out of bread.
  9. I take an oath that I will never again purchase, as a surprise birthday gift for my wife, a non-returnable authentic Oriental rug woven with colors, patterns, and hues that, to quote the birthday girl, “don’t match anything on the entire North American continent.”  The auctioneer did say that he had never seen one like it.

There you have them, and I promise that sometime soon, I will begin to do my utmost to honor these commitments.  And I know that if I succeed, I will be a better man for having made the effort.  So, in the meantime, how about a nice slice of fruitcake?  It is healthier than you might have thought.

Raymond L. Atkins

Raymond L. Atkins

Raymond L. Atkins resides in Rome, Georgia. His stories have been published in Christmas Stories from Georgia, The Lavender Mountain Anthology, The Blood and Fire Review, The Old Red Kimono, Long Island Woman, and Savannah Magazine. His humorous column —"South of the Etowah" — appears in The Rome News-Tribune. His industrial maintenance column — "The Fundamentals" — appears in Maintenance Technology Magazine. His humorous column — "And So It Goes" — appears in Memphis Downtowner Magazine. His first novel, "The Front Porch Prophet," was published by Medallion Press in June of 2008 to critical acclaim and earned the 2009 Georgia Author of the Year Award for First Novel. His second novel, "Sorrow Wood," was released in June 2009 by Medallion Press and has been nominated for the 2010 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Fiction. Both are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers. His third novel, "Camp Redemption," will be released in August, 2011.

  1. One question Raymond-Do you have to sharpen your chainsaw to slice your sister’s fruit cake?

  2. I only see nine resolutions here, Ray. Nobody makes nine resolutions. It’s either 3 or 10. Which one did you leave off?

  3. Re the resolutions–I have nothin’. “I yam what I yam I am” and I accept that. However , the fruit cake story brings an odd story to mind. Years ago my Mother invited some of her deep South Georgia relatives to come and visit and go to the New York’s World Fair. They were thrilled and arrived with their little hats and their little white gloves and… to the WORLD FAIR. THE WORLD FAIR. OMG! The world at their feet. Where to start? What to see first?

    Wait for it………..

    They wanted to see the Claxton Fruitcake Booth! A very big enterprise from a very small town twenty miles from their home. Saw it, ooohed and awwed, had lunch and were ready to go home.

    Go figure!

  4. Ray- What a familiar name for some reason, hm… thanks for validating my process for resolutions, I have to be careful, or I’ll get what I wish for, exactly, and miss the flow, stuck in a bubble of my own blowing.

    Melanie, see above. I don’t even attempt 01.10 and/or 10.01. Nope. That number signifies the outcome of (from your example, 3,6, and 9) by years’ ends. I sure try on all sorts of dreams about that, I count on the Universe to know where I’m meant to be and let it happen. To do otherwize would just be blowing a bigger bubble! I think it is good to keep some things to oneself.

    Though much rarer, I’m sure you know there are folks who count the years by seasons, from four (the changing times) all the way to 13 (by the light of the moon!) and way beyond.

    I don’t think it’s so much what you do re these, but that you do something, anything. Otherwise life just sweeps by us, click after click of the second hand, w/out our noticing.

  5. Ray, I hate to disagree with your wife, but I must. I have vowed not to kill anyone the last couple of years. Since I, too, am on the “other” side of fifty and it’s not wrong, I find that this is a good resolution. I’m doing very well at keeping it, too. As long as I stay out of Washington….

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