The week between Christmas and New Year is an extended version of Easter Saturday: the hiatus between “then” and “what is to come”. I suppose for many of us it’s a time to sort the wrapping paper into the ripped-beyond-redemption and the can-probably-reuse piles. It’s a time to finish off the left-overs (if there are any). It’s a time to either throw away, or put into the rarely used cupboard, the what-were-they-thinking presents. Not that any of my family members ever give me something undesirable or useless, or just plain “what-the-hell-is-it?!” (Phew! Dodged a bullet there.) I guess, most of all, this week is a time to regroup, ready for the New Year celebrations.

Is anyone writing a New Year’s resolutions list? I don’t bother. In fact, I never got into the habit in the first place. Oh, okay…I used to resolve that this year I’d finally become thin, ethereal-looking and able to wear a size 10. Never happened. Ever.

New Year resolutions are a waste of time. Writing one of those lists is a futile exercise that will damn you to a hellish existence of guilt, frustration and, possibly, self-loathing. Don’t do it to yourself!

I’m not saying that one should never have aims or goals. And, I’m the first to encourage people to follow their dreams. I’m just saying that as soon as you write a list of I-wills or I-shoulds, you’re heading for disappointment. Proper goals/dreams/aims should be slightly beyond our reach to force us to stretch ourselves and make an effort but, at the same time, they should still be achievable. They shouldn’t be rigid laws, demanding impossible levels of perfection.

When I was a kid (back when I rode my pet stegosaurus to school) we would write a resolutions list as a class assignment. I’m sure it was just one of the ploys to keep us busy in that last strange week of school before the holidays. Even then I could never think of anything sensible or achievable to write. I’d put the perennial next-year-I’ll-be-thin (doomed to failure right there). Sometimes I’d put, when I grow up I’m going to be a lady. Hahahaaaaa. Yep, that worked out just fine. Usually I’d promise to be nice and polite and never say a bad word and to never cheat at games and… Oh you get the drift. In the New Year I’d finally become Miss Perfect.    sigh.

Life isn’t neat and well-ordered. You can do all the planning you want but life has a habit of leaping out from behind a door and shouting, Surprise! There are more important things than writing lists. (I know that all you list-writers are now gasping with shock and horror. I’m sorry. Just pray for me.) Let’s just get on with living, loving, dreaming and doing and I’m sure the other stuff will sort itself out.

Start this coming new year in a sane, healthy, stress-free way: be kind to yourself. And, remember, if you muck it up there’s (God willing) another new year coming in about 12 months time. You’ll get another chance.

We’re all pilgrims on the journey of life. Thanks for helping to make my part of the trip interesting. Happy New Year!