My sister-in-law also makes everyone write down a private prediction, to be read in 12 months’ time over that same meal. As I am one of the few people I know who actually loves black eyed peas, I didn’t mind the food part; but I absolutely dreaded making my yearly predictions. Like in the classic horror story “The Monkey’s Paw”, I couldn’t see any good coming in me committing a “prediction” (wish) to paper…it would certainly be unsportsmanlike to guess at something bad happening, but to forecast something good felt dangerously close to tempting fate.
I always wrote an innocuous and unimaginative note (“We’ll have a lot of weather!”) and hoped that no one sensed my utter lack of enthusiasm for the game. HA! HUGE LIE. I told everyone about my utter lack of enthusiasm for the game and squirmed openly. Now that we no longer live close enough to participate, I have comfortably settled back into my no-tradition-is-the-tradition way of celebrating the change in the calendar.
I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn that in addition to not making predictions about the upcoming year, I also refrain from making “resolutions”. Both of these things seem to add unnecessary pressure and stress--NOT how I want to go into any “new” situation. Like most everybody else, I am just doing the best I can on a day-to-day basis with the resources and information I have at any given time, and that feels like a good mark to hit.
However, listening to and reading about OTHER people’s resolutions or lack thereof has inspired me to write my own special list of what I am going to call my New Year ABSOLUTIONS, designed to free me from blame or guilt and release me from unnecessary obligations:
MY ABSOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR:
1) I absolve myself from the mandate to eat kale! A few years ago KALE was identified as a mighty superfood that would enable me to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or something like that. I dutifully added kale to my regular routine, even though in my estimation it tastes, especially when cooked, like ass. To be fair, it is not overpowering enough to ruin a salad when mixed with other greens, but it was ruining my scrambled eggs on a consistent basis. So I am giving up kale.
2) I absolve myself from the need to apologize for my gluten sensitivity. Everybody likes to joke about how annoying and frankly insane “gluten free” people can be, but believe me, if I had a choice I would be typing this with just one hand because I’d have a big, fat New York bagel in the other. I LOVE GLUTEN but it no longer loves me and the physical consequences of eating it with any frequency are too great. In short, it already SUCKS TO BE ME when I say “No thank you” to your offer of pizza; I’m not going to add insult to injury by apologizing about it.
3) I absolve myself from feeling guilty about the fact that I am an epic fail as a “soccer mom”. NO, I will NOT stand around in the freezing cold, blazing heat or even temperate clime to watch my kid PRACTICE soccer, especially when there is a lovely nature preserve bordering the fields for me to hike on. NO, I will NOT work at the concession stand; leave that to someone with 4 kids in the league who has to be there all day anyhow. NO, I will NOT collect money and put together a raffle basket because A) life is short and B) I would rather pay extra at sign up than have to participate in all of the God forsaken fundraising. I will get my kid to practices and games on time in a clean uniform, I will buy the team photo and make sure my son exhibits good sportsmanship, unlike his mother. You’re very welcome.
4) I absolve myself from apologizing for how I look, one way or the other. I hate yoga pants and wear them exclusively when I am doing yoga—I won’t even run errands in them afterwards because they make me feel sloppy. I will not leave the house without mascara because my eyelashes are invisible without it and I like to look nice, weirdly. If I am wearing lipstick, I do not want to be accused of being “dolled up”. It is amazing to me that NO MATTER WHAT, people can find something to criticize about my appearance, whether I look “dolled up/too dressed up” (?) or conversely “like I haven’t been eating well” (??) or “exhausted” (okay, I am, but that isn’t helping!). I want to look as good as I can under any given circumstances and I'm not going to apologize for that; but if I look bad, it will not make me feel better to hear you say so.
5) I absolve myself from the need to “curb my enthusiasm”. Yes, I am a person who is easily excited and feels passionately about many things and no, I am not going to “calm down” until I’m dead. Deal with it or don’t, but do NOT try to make me feel embarrassed about it.
6) In fact, I will not let anyone tell me I don’t have the right to feel how I feel. There is overwhelming evidence that I am not an irrational or stupid person; therefore, if I am feeling sad or angry or suspicious or frightened there is a DAMN good reason and you trying to tell me otherwise is disrespectful and doesn’t change anything.
7) I absolve myself from “going along to get along”. This seems to me to be the most unreasonable solution to any problem. You start going along a path you don’t believe in and you could end up totally lost, or unable to turn back. Not for me.
8) I absolve myself of the need to “explain myself” to anyone. Judgment couched as concern is a transparent trigger; yes, it will make me angry and no, my life and choices are not your problem or business. They are mine and I am good with that.
9) I absolve myself from the hypocrisy of “yes” when I mean no. I will not let anyone tell me that “no” is the wrong answer if it is my honest response.
10) I absolve myself for the bad decisions and mistakes I will inevitably make. Everyone does, it is part of the process. I will not be paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying the “wrong” thing, because that is like living half a life. I will stand by my motto, “Today’s bad experience is tomorrow’s funny story” and try to remember to laugh at my foibles whenever I have the grace to do so.
In short, I absolve myself of the need to be anyone but myself and to act in any way other than how I am naturally inclined to act. And I extend these same rights and privileges to you! Wouldn’t this be a wonderful year if we could all mind our own damn business and let other people live as they want in peace??? That’s not a prediction, btw; just a wish.