I learned long ago to save my work as I go, lest the computer gremlins take hold of it and whisk it away to the place where lost socks live. So when I sit down to write a column, if I have a title in mind, I start by saving the document with that name.

This time, because the column will print between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I decided to write about my feelings regarding New Year’s resolutions and call it “To Resolve or Not To Resolve?” with a nod to the Bard. To my surprise, I already had one with that title, and it turns out that my feelings haven’t really changed at all on the subject of resolutions.

According to online dictionaries, the word “resolution” has several meanings, not the least of which is “a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, legislature, club, or other group,” from Dictionary.com. We hear that one most often in reporting on governmental meetings where a legislative body passes a resolution for something.

As a reader, my favorite definition comes from Merriam-Webster, who lists one meaning as “the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out.” It’s the part of the book or movie that allows us to breathe a sigh of relief, feel sadness or anger, or smile as we put the book down or leave the theater.

But the definition that applies most at this time of year is simply “something that is resolved” or a “firmness of resolve” that many folks embrace with the closing of one year and the beginning of another. It plays on our optimism and reminds us that we are in charge of our own destiny.

If we choose to do so, we can lose some weight, be more active, read more books, find a better job, etc., whatever we feel needs a change in our lives. A new year and a resolve to make things better gives us a brighter outlook and lightens our step, at least for a few days.

But for folks like me who are affected by the weather and the extended hours of darkness, holding on to that resolve becomes more difficult with each dreary winter day. My resolve to keep the floor at the front door entry to my house clean wanes by the fifth consecutive day of having to remove the stubborn leaves that adhere to our shoe soles instead of the door mat just long enough to make it inside the house.

When it’s already dark and cold when I leave work, it’s difficult to find the motivation to do anything other than make a pot of soup and grab a book and blanket and head for the couch. Making a New Year’s resolution is an exercise in futility for me, so I gave it up long ago.

After the holidays are over, I feel more akin to bears. They have the right idea. Eat a lot to build up the fat stores to get through the lean times, find a warm place to curl up, and then sleep until the weather is better. Of course the bears also don’t have jobs when they emerge from their caves in the spring, so that idea is moot.

I do find it is easier for me to build new habits when the sun is shining and there seems to be more hours in a day. My brain tells me there are always 24, but my circadian rhythms beg to differ. Perhaps I’m inherently solar-powered.

Maybe I could create a new wave of resolution-making? Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I and others who suffer similar winter dysfunction could promote “Summer Solstice resolutions.” We’d have longer days in which to accomplish tasks, and better weather for outdoor activities. We would have healthier foods to eat since fresh vegetables are in season.

Who’s with me? Let’s start a resolution revolution. Someone remind me in June, though, because for now, the only thing I’m starting is a pot of soup.

Greeneville native Paige Mengel is a Tusculum College alumna, CPA, arts admirer and Business Coordinator of Greeneville Theatre Guild. Contact Paige at paigemengel@gmail.com.

Recommended for you