As I looked back on New Years past — how can you not when the next one is looming — I kid you not: I really learned only one thing that actually helped me at subsequent New Year’s Eve celebrations. The millisecond the midnight countdown hits “1” be sure you’re standing up. Seriously. People are going to want to hug and kiss you, and if you are sitting, it means they have to lean over to do so and they will spill their drink on you.

As holidays go, New Year’s can be OK. I think it’s good that we convince ourselves that the New Year is like a giant do-over. We get a fresh 365 days and the opportunities are endless. How can you not like an idea like that?

And, by the way, partygoers everywhere link arms and sing “Auld Lang Syne?” What does that even mean? I’m Scottish, and I’ve always been a little vague on the “syne” part myself. Auld is old, lang is long, you’re on your own for syne. I always take it to mean days past, as good a thing to sing in a new year with as any.

I think we invented New Year’s resolutions as a way to keep our feeling of hope alive. After all, we get to start over. What better time to actually do some of the things we’ve been trying to talk ourselves into all year, or in some cases since our 2013 resolutions? Or 2012…

But when it comes right down to it, I personally put New Year’s resolutions in the same basket as the Bucket List. If the subject of your resolution is important enough to make a new year’s event of it, shouldn’t it be important enough to take care of as you go along?

I admit to no particular science in the following theory. No poll data, no research whatsoever, just years of observing my own behavior and the behavior of others. But, that said, I would comfortably identify the three key resolutions, year after year, are: to lose weight, stop smoking and to stop/cut back on the use of alcohol and/or drugs. Of course, we all have personal demons we want to address and the resolve to deal with those would merit top priority.


Here’s why I think putting off something until it can be made into a New Year’s resolution can be worse than adding something to our Bucket Lists: It gives us the chance for “one last,” which usually becomes more than one.

Allow me to speak from personal observation. I’ve struggled with weight issues most of my adult life. When I have succeeded in losing weight, I have decided to start on a Tuesday, or June 9 or now.

If I waited until resolution time, I have invariably figured on “one last” pizza, before I started, cause soon … you know … I wouldn’t be eating any. And, well, as long as I had a pizza, a couple of doughnuts would be good, cause soon … you know. … And we have that leftover lasagna that shouldn’t go waste and … you know. Well, there’s nothing quite so motivationally crushing as putting on a bunch of weight when your head is full of diet. So, yeah, I guess losing weight can wait; that pizza tasted good anyway.

Do I think people should stop making resolutions for the New Year? Why would I think that?

If there is anything I’ve learned from 2013 it’s that you have got to do everything you can to be positive; it’s the best way to keep fear from messing with you. If a resolution helps you do that for days only, days only it is, and days matter.

So, how did Jim and Sheri spend this New Year’s Eve? Well, for the first time in quite a while we actually were awake at midnight. Yeah baby! The Arnolds were awake … and watching a movie. We actually missed the whole ball dropping, Times Square, everybody dance now thing. But only by three minutes. Surely we get street cred for that?


Madonna made a fabulous song out of four minutes. Anyway, we paused the movie and gave each other a big hug and kiss. Sheri looked me in the eye, and said, simply and as a matter of fact, not opinion, “This is going to be a good year.” I met her gaze, and said, as a matter of fact, not opinion, “Yeah. It is.”

We hope it is for you as well, and lang mae yer lum reek.

Jim Arnold is a copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. He was born in Scotland and came to America with his parents in 1963, when he was 14 years old. He and his wife, Sheri, moved to Maine in 1998. He has two daughters, Jennifer and Alison.

Editor’s note: This column is a shorter version of the one Arnold originally wrote. To read the entire column, visit his blog,

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