Synopsis: What's in a resolution? G-Ma is reminded by
the children to "never forget to remember" she's a Grandparent of
Vigilance. The children learn about how to make a resolution,
and where they came from. And G-Ma is reminded one more time
how easy it is to become complacent.
LESSON OF A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
January 3, 2002
“G-Ma, what’s a res-lution? I heard mommy and
daddy talking about G-Pa’s res-lution for this next year; that maybe he
would finally quit smoking?”
Matt, at age five, was worried about his
grandpa. He knew smoking wasn’t a good habit and he and the family wanted
G-Pa to stop.
“Hmmm...that would be a super
res-o-lu-tion for G-Pa, my ‘little man’.” I hurried to answer his question
as he oftentimes blasted them out like New Year’s Eve confetti raining
down at Times Square.
“A res-o-lu-tion is an act of determining
action or a course of action. So, if G-Pa made a resolution about
smoking, hopefully it would be that he would stop smoking or at least
try to stop smoking. Many people make resolutions to help themselves
inwardly or outwardly at the start of the new year. They are called New
I was happy to find out that my husband was
considering quitting smoking. I need not go into detail with my
grandchildren about the ‘evils’ of smoking. Matt, as well as his
three-year old sister, Sarah, knew smoking was definitely not a good
habit and was bad for G-Pa. Matt had even put a ‘no smoking, please’
magnet in the back pack he gave to his grandpa for Christmas.
Matt’s curiosity was peaked. He squiggled up
his face, alerting me more questions were about to erupt. “G-Ma, G-Ma do
you and mommy and daddy make res-o-lutions, and Auntie E???? What
do you say you’ll do next year?” He grabbed my hand and led me
over to the couch where he and his three-year-old sister and I cozied
together. I knew I was ‘on the hot seat’ once again.
“Well, Matt, let’s see now…..” I paused so I
could gather my thoughts and, of course, my resolutions for the new
year of 2002.
going to write down on my list that I am going to do sit ups and use my
arm weights daily to get into better shape.”
I was pleased I came up with something I might
actually do. I gave his shoulders a little hug and smiled down into
his blue eyes, filled with lingering question marks.
“That doesn’t seem as hard as what G-Pa has
Matt’s parents promoted fairness to both my little ones. His
comment about my resolution versus G-Pa’s was a challenge to my
integrity. I was practical. I wouldn’t want to spout out some idealistic
and impossible challenge I wouldn’t live up to. I decided a distraction
was in order…and quickly.
Christmas traditions and now it’s a
good time to tell you what I did when I was a little girl to get ready for
the new year. “ I put an arm around each of my two beautiful gifts on
either side of me.
“G-Ma, what did you do. Did your kitty
help you?” asked sweet Sarah. Her round eyes were the color of two huge
“No, Sarah, my kitty was not involved in
this tradition. But, my mommy, daddy and two brothers were. We all
sat around our dining room table and my mother, GaGa, gave us all a piece
of paper and a pencil.”
Matt, as quick as a cat, leaped ahead of my
“G-Ma, you all are going to write down your
resolutions,” he proudly proclaimed. “What did you write down, G-Ma?”
He frowned as he met my admiring gaze, worrying I might tell him something
he might not want to do.
“I listed ways I could help my mother around
the house…like picking up my toys, hanging up my clothes, straightening
the book shelf and…..”
“Feeding your cat” Sarah screeched
triumphantly. “I help feed my kitty, G-Ma, I do that for mommy.” She
squeezed my arm for approval.
I smiled. “I think you get the message Matt and
Sarah. It would be a fun and important project for both of you to make
your own lists of New Year’s Resolutions.”
I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this lesson plan for them sooner,
and then realized the irony of the situation. My discussion with them
prompted me to make my list. I had forgotten my family’s
tradition and had become lazy. Matt and Sarah. re-energized me to
get ready for the new year.
I wondered how many other grandparents,
parents, uncles, aunts, etc. had also become complacent. For a moment I
forgot to be a Grandparent of Vigilance. I forgot to remember those who
perished on 9-11. I forgot those children who needed protection from
‘fear’ of Terrorism, not just physical fear--but fear itself.
“G-Ma, G-Ma?” I was speedily transported into
the present by my grandson’s insistent roaring of my name.
“What is it, Matt?” I turned to face his scrunched up
‘I’ve-got-another-question-for- you’ face.
“G-Ma, how did the res-o-lutions get started.
Who wrote their list first?” He scooted aside to make room for Sarah as
she clambered onto my lap.
“Let’s see, Matt, the Babylonians celebrated
New Years Day over four thousand years ago. Their celebration was in
March rather than in January.” I was trying to remember why this was so
and was relieved I could answer the expected next question from my
precocious ‘little man’. I spoke before the question could be asked.
“These people, the Babylonians, celebrated the
spring planting of crops.” I was hoping my response would be sufficient
for my little interrogator.
“Hmmm…..well, yes, that’s right, G-Ma, lots of
planting is done in the Spring. I know that. I saw planting stuff on
Discovery. So, the seeds will grow new plants and the res-o-lutions we
write down are new good stuff for us to grow?” He was attempting to put
the pieces of the puzzle together in his own mind before he sought further
“That’s an excellent way to think of it, my
wise one. Yes, also, the New Year, no matter when people have
celebrated it, has always been a time for looking back to the past and
seeing how to make the future better. It’s a time to reflect on the
changes we want, or often need, if want to grow as human beings.
Resolutions are a reflection of the Babylonians’ belief that what a person
does on the first day of the New Year will have an effect throughout out
the entire year.” I paused thinking I’d overdone my explanation and the
children wouldn’t comprehend most of it.
“So, that might mean G-Pa would realize smoking
has hurt him – that’s the past. And, he might want to quit and think a
lot about stopping…so he could grow. He would think it through - that’s
the ‘new’ year part.”
“G-Pa should NOT smoke, right G-Ma?” Sarah
entered the discussion. “Matt, don’t look sad,” she said comfortingly.
“G-Pa said he wanted to not smoke. I heard him.” She grabbed Matt’s hand
in her little motherly way to comfort him.
“Well, little ones, one thing is for sure.
G-Pa is thinking about not smoking. Maybe he did write down on his
New Year’s Resolution list that he will think about not smoking
every day and…”
“…And, one day he won’t smoke” yelled Matt and
Sarah together. Matt added, “It’s okay to have a good thought on your
list then, G-Ma?”.
“Yes, you two sweet peas, it certainly is.” I
was hoping the Parents of Vigilance, the grandparents, uncles, aunts,
nieces, nephews, and other caretakers had good thoughts for the new year.
More importantly, I hoped they had vigilance at the top of their
resolutions list and didn’t have to be reminded as I did to prepare for
Sarah jumped off my lap and the couch and flew
to the cabinet to extract the crayons and paper. “Let’s draw our lists
now, Matt and G-Ma.”
“Write our lists, Sarah.” Matt gently
corrected his sister. “Even if it’s past the first day of January, can we
make our lists, G-Ma?”
“Remember what G-Pa always says, kids.” I looked down on them as
they sprawled on the floor both armed with crayons and paper.
“Right, G-Ma. We can start a new day anytime,”
they chimed. “So, we can make our New Year’s Resolutions today and that
will be okay?” I nodded. “Write yours down, too, G-Ma.” Matt handed me my
Crayola--my tool of growth.
At the top of my list I wrote: “As a
Grandparent of Vigilance, never forget I am one.”
Then I looked at the kids. I smiled. Terrorism would have a
tough time breaking through their belief systems. They had res-o-lutions.
To Sophia 12: "G-Ma's Family Hour"