January has arrived, and now all of our excuses are invalid.
One of the things I love about the holidays is the free pass not just for indulgence, but for the postponement of asceticism. The indulgence of procrastination. That diet? Starts January. Cutting back on booze? Not until January, you aren’t. Start working out? More like think about starting to work out…in January. Eight hours of sleep a night and eight glasses of water a day? Those kinds of heroics will have to wait for the next calendar year.
The holidays are when we go easy on each other and easy on ourselves, when we strive to establish peace on earth and goodwill toward that next plate of cookies. We instinctively give up our battles, and we allow ourselves not to feel terrible even if those battles are just wars.
I think this is good and appropriate. Lent needs it’s Mardi Gras. And if we’re going to have any hope of effecting changes in the new year, we need to spend the last few weeks of the old year allowing ourselves to get away with doing whatever we want. Because when January 1 hits and you’re staring at a bowl full of kale, you’ll be glad you took the opportunity to double-fist gingerbread back in December.
January is when we tell ourselves things will change, that we will change. New Year’s Day is probably the only day of the year when most people spend more time thinking about what they can do differently than about how their problems or shortcomings are someone else’s fault. It’s a brief triumph of optimism and personal responsibility over defeatism and blame. I say brief because we all know that New Year’s resolutions are the teenage romances of resolve, passionately launched and short-lived.
That’s why I don’t make them. But still, along with everyone else, I sense that January is a time to buckle down and work on the things that aren’t working for me. To start doing things I’ve been meaning to start doing; to stop doing things I’ve been meaning to stop doing. And one of the biggest things I want to stop doing is “meaning to.” Resolutions are nice. But moving past intent and launching into action is much nicer.