I have only one New Year’s resolution for 2020:
Make a piece of toast
… in the toaster.
Scoff if you will. This resolution is not as easy as it seems.
In order to use the toaster, I will first have to find the toaster.
We moved to a new house two months ago, and approximately 45 unopened moving boxes remain stacked in my garage.
I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has hidden the Ark of the Covenant in there.
One of those boxes holds the toaster. My goal for the new year is to find it.
Historians tell us that the first New Year’s resolution was made some 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia. In those days, the new year began in March, at crop-planting time. Part of the New Year’s festivities included making promises to the gods to pay off debts.
A few thousand years later, in ancient Rome, back when emperors could do such things, Julius Caesar made up a whole new calendar, including a new month named for Janus, a two-faced god who could look backward and foward at the same time. January became the first month of the year, and to honor/appease Janus, the ancient Romans promised to be good in the coming year.
New Year’s celebrations continued through the centuries, becoming less about gods and more about drinking and making lots of noise, until 1740, when English clergyman John Wesley had enough and started a New Year’s worship service. This “watchnight service” was a time for somber reflection, prayer and making resolutions for the coming year. Take that, Times Square disco ball.
Today, about 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. (The other 60 percent of us are cold-eyed realists.)
The most common resolutions, according to Time magazine, are:
1. Lose weight and get fit.
2. Quit smoking.
3. Learn something new.
4. Eat healthier and diet.
5. Get out of debt and save money.
6. Spend more time with family.
7. Travel to new places.
8. Be less stressed.
10. Drink less.
The fastest recorded time to break a resolution? .05 seconds, set in 2017 by me, when I discovered Blue Bell Christmas Cookies ice cream.
The nature of resolutions has changed over the years. Compare the above list to this New Year’s resolution from 1909:
“I will this day try to live a simple and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and self-seeking, cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence, exercising economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a child-like trust in God.”
Gee, all I want to do is find the toaster.
Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or email@example.com.