Instead of Writing a New Year’s Resolution List You Should…

Darling, considering all the things your revered auntie has gotten up to in her life, if you really want to do something (aside from becoming an assassin or mugger) I shall support you, but you must understand the dangers of New Year’s Lists as the result will be 1) everything is accomplished 2) a few things are accomplished and the list hangs forlorn for weeks 3) the list hangs over your head like the Sword of Damocles.

Gretchen Rubin (3 air kisses: mwah mwuah mwuah!) writes lists like “18 things to do in 2022” and then she does all of them. But she’s a practiced list maker and cross-offer. If you try that, it might succeed or it might be April and you realize you’ve accomplished none of them which sends your mood into a tail spin that can only be relieved by pouring Taittinger over your head while standing on a pool table. It happens.

So think small. Remember:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. A.W. Streane

Carefully wrap any of your Christmas decorations that you don’t like using Christmas paper that you don’t like to give to people you don’t like for Christmas next year. Win – win- win.

Destroy holiday gifts which you received from trolls – Yes, Darling, of course you should donate unwanted items to charity. I know. And yet, Etiquette Central says that the malevolent gifts [such as pots and pans for a person who doesn’t cook, an (unasked-for) scale, something antithetical to your beliefs like a book by person with repugnant political opinions] carry a malevolent energy.

So you need to destroy them. Smashing things  – quelle adorableness! Heave those gifts out of windows, lob them into compost heaps, chuck them into recycling containers. There are so many things in life that you need to handle with care (from Dior lipsticks to teenagers’ feelings) it’s wonderful to have something that you can break, burn, stomp on so use this gift to vent about any and all frustrating situations.

Old Lady Swimming – This is the best, sure fire mood enhancer ever, short of champagne. 1) Put on your swimsuit 2) Apply lipstick and put your hair up 3) Go to a HEATED POOL, if you live somewhere cold remember that most hotels have a day-pass 4) Put on coconut-scented lotion 5) go gingerly into the pool and paddle around. DO NOT TRY TO EXERCISE. Paddle. Kick a little. Don’t get your hair wet, just float. Daydream. [If you have kids – hire a babysitter to watch over them (encouraging the babysitter to make the kids play strenuously). Pretend they are not your children.] 6) Go home and have a completely inappropriate dinner: popcorn, pancakes, and three servings go cranberry sauce with mini-marshmallows. [And yes, keep the babysitter! Let her wrangle with the rug-rats for dinner and bedtime, tell everyone you have a family emergency and hie off to the den to watch South Pacific or Cocktail] An aperitif or eight, toddle off to bed and wake up the next morning with a renewed faith in humanity.

Sleep – everything is exhausting, catch up on your beauty rest, under-eye circles compliment no outfit.

Self-care – New lip balm in your purse, by your bed and in the kitchen; new lotion in your bathroom and at your desk; new water bottle and a room fragrance that you love

Read comforting fiction

  • Persuasion
  • Lolly Willows
  • The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
  •  anything by L. M. Montgomery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jennifer Crusie, George MacDonald Fraser or Louisa May Alcott
  • fairy tales

Think about your health – I said THINK, not do anything drastic. We hate drastic. If you want to improve your health, whatever that means for you, start small. Try:

  • because sometimes the intention to improve begins with baby steps
  • a naturopath: []. Naturopaths do not bounce into examination rooms, glance at your chart, turn towards the computer screen and begin to fire questions. They walk in quietly, meet your eye and ask, “How are you?” They listen. They have more than five minutes and are interested in you as a person, not a symptom with legs. Major medical issues need medical doctors – but nieces who feel that something is not quite right need naturopaths.

Try a little spirituality

  • your holy book (yes, Bemelmans, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, the Essential Calvin and Hobbes, Martha Stewart’s Entertaining and the diaries of Captain Robert Falcon Scott qualify as holy books)
  • Tosha Silver
  • Does This Church Make Me Look Fat
  • Here if You Need Me

If you still insist on making a New Year’s List – Watch Casablanca until the feeling passes.

If you really want to make a New Year’s List – Consider doing a list without investing it with too much significance. A post-it note or index card, ‘stickie’ on your laptop screen – write 7 small tasks you want to accomplish in the next month or so. When you finish one, cross it off – add another. If one stays on for a while, cross it off anyway. Take down old lists when there are a few things crossed off or put up a new list once a month; burn the old ones or tuck them into a calendar and keep as reminders.

Keep the list at only 7 items at a time so that you feel there is both always something for you to do, but not a whole bunch of major life changes which are soul-crushing in their magnitude.

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year. John Foster Dulles

Forward, darling, ever forward, but make haste slowly. It’s going to be fine, Darling.