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Silver Threads: New Year's resolutions

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

Our little dachshund, Heidi, is going to make her first New Year’s resolution. She will stop continually barking and yapping inside our house in response to normal neighborhood noise. When I’ve determined there’s no danger outside, I’ll say, “Quiet,” and she will be. I will assist her in this resolve by taking her to dog obedience classes at the Louisiana SPCA.

In fact, going to the classes is my own major resolution for 2015. And I hope I’m better at keeping it than I did the one about going to exercise class in 2014.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t traditions conjured by modern minds. Wikipedia says the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year to return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

And both Jews and Christians have had for centuries traditions of atonement, sacrifice and self-improvement when a new year begins.

Their noble purposefulness makes the resolutions below seem small-minded, but they are things I need to do, and most of them could be described as “life improving.” So, I hereby resolve:

To stop fooling around on my newish computer, thereby fouling up my email capabilities, font types and styles, links, preferences, page breaks and whatever there is on any menu I pull up except what I really, really need to fiddle with.

To stop dropping my cell phone, because if I destroy it, I probably will not be able to get another flip-top like it. I am too dumb for a smart phone.

To assign permanent places for everything I habitually use -- my glasses, my purse, the shoes I put on in the morning and take off when I put my feet up, the Coke I am drinking, my e-reader, my cell phone, the mobile phone from the kitchen, etc. On the other hand, if I didn’t have to walk around looking for them I’d probably need to resolve to go to an exercise class.

To stop inviting more than four people to dinner at a time, because my husband is slowing down as a chef, and I am way tired of cleaning up after a meal for eight, 10 or even 16 as on Christmas Eve. Also, to somehow dispose of the really big pot he uses -- unnecessarily -- for small culinary operations.

To also dispose of at least half of our kitchen utensils if I can get by with it. We have four or more of everything -- pots, spoons, knives of every size, bowls, etc. Things to cook with are my husband’s toys, and you’ve heard this of men: “He who has the most toys wins.”

To call the Salvation Army to pick up some of the above, and some of my own things: clothes I haven’t worn in more than two years, jackets that are out of style  (you know the ones -- shoulder pads big as the accent pillows on my sofa), shoes I ordered on the internet and didn’t like much and that hurt my feet when I wore them once or twice.

To rip the dead plants from the side of the house that gets barely any sun, plant some ferns, and leave it at that. Or, to call Dan Gill for help.

To lose some weight, give up some bad habits, pay more attention to the needs of others, be a better wife, mother, grandmother, cousin and friend.

To be grateful daily for what a fortunate 79 years I’ve had.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected]