The Lesson of a New Year's Resolution

                              SOPHIA - 11


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.

G-Ma Lori
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 Year’s Resolutions.”

        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.

        “I ‘m 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 to do?” 
       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 chocolate kisses.

      “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 story.

      “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 answers.

      “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 2002.

      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.



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