Well, it’s a new year; time to store away those tacky Christmas decorations, head to the mall to exchange all the presents that suck, and, of course, make New Year’s resolutions about how perfect you’re going to be this coming year. I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but, according to statistics, resolutions remain a popular activity among humans.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering how in the name of Dick Clark did the tradition of New Year’s resolutions get started. Well, resolutions go all the way back to the Babylonians, who made promises to their gods each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. I’ll admit that I don’t know much about the Babylonians, other than they were nifty gardeners and built the first skyscraper, but there is one thing I do know … “Rooster” Edwards could learn a lesson from the Babylonians. “Rooster” has never returned a borrowed object or paid a debt in his life. Heck, he still owes his wife, Lavenia, an “I do” from their oft-talked about wedding ceremony. When the preacher asked “Rooster” if he took Lavenia for his lawfully-wedded wife, “Rooster,” who had prepped for the wedding by drinking large quantities of alcohol, made a noise that can only be described as crude, and passed out. Pretty much, everyone there felt that was probably a yes, so the preacher slapped his okay on the pairing.
The Romans made promises to their god Janus, such as “I promise not to stab my best friend in the heart,” or “crucify people of other races, unless, of course, they really, really deserve it.” In the Medieval era, knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of each Christmas season to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. Okay, I’m not an accredited historian, although the Mistress of the Manor and I used to play a game called “The History Professor and the Failing Student,” but I think I could have thought of a better name than “peacock vow.” That sounds like a vow for the court jester or for Terrance, Lady Elizabeth’s sensitive male friend. Of course, resolutions are also a part of the religious faiths. During Rosh Hashanah, Jews reflect upon their wrongdoings and seek forgiveness, while Christians sort of do the same thing during Lent. They just don’t take it as seriously.
As one might guess, the nature of New Year’s resolutions has changed dramatically over the many years. For example, at the end of the 19th century, a typical teenage girl’s New Year’s resolution was focused on becoming less self-centered, being more helpful, being a more diligent worker, and improving her internal character. In today’s world, Mandy’s resolution is to be the hottest babe in school, to be named Homecoming Queen and to steal the boyfriend of every popular girl in school.
Yes, it may be hard to believe, but most modern-day New Year’s resolutions are a bit more superficial than those of King Arthur’s knights. Most deal with losing weight (so as to become a hot babe or hunk), eating healthier, drinking or smoking less, and things like that. Some misguided people do make resolutions to become more educated or to volunteer to help others, not realizing that the only way to make the world a better place is for everyone to be healthier and better looking.
Now, I’ll bet you’re wondering just how successful all this resolution making is. Well, not very. According to a study in 2007, 88 percent of people who made New Year’s resolutions failed. In the past, I have made resolutions of virtually every kind, and, so far, none have stuck. I have resolved to lose weight, to get better organized and to find out what talent Brian Sechrist possesses. He’s on TV a lot, he’s talked about a lot, but as far as I can see, the man has no discernible talent. Heck, “Rooster’s” pet chicken, “Free Bird,” can play the piano.
Now, if you’re one of the many people on this revolving mass of insecurity we call earth and you choose to make a resolution or two, I wish you well. I hope you lose weight, I hope you learn a foreign language, I hope you take a trip, I hope you break the world record for eating hard-boiled eggs (I just don’t want to be around you if you do). But, as for me, I’m content to let the water flow, the wind blow, the earth move, the fires burn. In other words, I may change, but it will be a natural evolution. If a tail is involved, so be it.