More than a decade ago, when I was still writing a weekly column that ran in a local community newspaper, I wrote this:
I am not big on New Year’s resolutions. They may be made with good intentions, but they seldom last. Instead I have made a list of things I would like to do within the next twelve months. They are in no particular order.
To spend an entire day with my best friend.
To listen to The Cat purr.
To bring in an armful of lilacs in the spring and put them in a vase in my living room.
To introduce Lord of the Rings to The Boy – not as easy a read as Harry Potter, but equally enchanting.
To wave a Canadian flag on Canada Day.
To wear red on Valentine’s Day, green on St. Patrick’s Day and orange at Hallowe’en.
To take winter walks just to listen to the sound of snow crunching beneath my feet.
To write more letters.
To get up at dawn in the early spring and hear a bird sing.
To listen more and dictate less to my children.
To spend five minutes just looking at clouds. Ditto for stars.
To tell one joke each day.
To play catch with The Boy.
To look for killdeer nests on the lawn.
To search for crocuses in April and lady slippers in June.
To say, “No, I do not have time to do that” and not feel guilty.
To watch the news less often and listen to music more.
To shut off the alarm and sleep in occasionally.
To spend a day with The Girl, just the two of us.
To accompany The Man on summer drives to the pasture to check the cows.
To see a rainbow.
To worry less about time flying and just enjoy the flight.
To write a poem.
To dress up for Hallowe’en.
To hug The Girl and The Boy at least once a day each.
To give handmade Christmas gifts to everyone on my list.
To eat twelve pieces of Christmas fruitcake – each one earning me a month of good luck in the new year – and not gain weight as a result.
To finish the year as it began – with family close at hand.
I should note that The Man is my husband, The Girl my daughter and The Boy my son. That’s what I called them in my column.
As I said, it has been more than a decade since I wrote those words. The Girl and The Boy no longer live at home, so hugging them every day is impossible. I make it up with multiple hugs when I see them and they have learned to put up with their mother’s eccentricities.
I don’t remember how many of these items I accomplished that year, although I think I have now done them all. Except for the twelve pieces of fruitcake, that is. One is always enough for me. And while I almost always give at least one handmade present at Christmas, crossing off everyone on my list with a homemade gift has proven difficult.
But as I re-read the words all these years later, I see a connection between what I wrote then and the work I now do for Healthy Child Coalition – Central Region.
Introducing my son to literature? That’s literacy. Walking over crunching snow? Physical activity. It’s a bit of a stretch to link fruit cake with nutrition, I suppose. Taking time to enjoy natural outdoor wonders? A good way to battle nature deficiency disorder. Hugging your children? Attachment. Spending time with your children, listening to your children? Family health. Building capacity, too, if you think of parenting in terms of preparing children for adulthood. Maintaining connections with friends and family? Personal and family health.
Then. Now. Here. There. It makes no difference.
The things that matter always matter.