A Look On The Lighter Side: Counting the blessings of a New Year …or two!

Judy Epstein

One benefit of observing the Jewish New Year, at least for me, is that it gives me twice as many chances to repent for my mistakes—and then twice as many opportunities to make resolutions for a new year.

I can make solemn promises on Yom Kippur — say, to stay in touch with my extended family on a weekly basis — and then, after a few months of trial and error, see where I went wrong and recalibrate for the new calendar year (surely every month is enough of a goal!).

I can resolve to write something meaningful every day or take a daily walk around the neighborhood and then realize that “every day” is really too much to ask in a complicated modern life.

A few short months ago, I might have said something like, “If I just manage to live through this pandemic, I swear I’ll never worry about anything else, ever again!”

It’s fine to feel that way. Understandable. Where I made my mistake — in hindsight — was saying it out loud.

My even bigger mistake was saying it where my family could hear me. And boy oh boy, are their memories good.

Take the time a hurricane blew in. We were all hunkered down, checking the batteries in our flashlights, when I said, “I’m afraid a big branch from that tree in the back yard might come loose and hit the house.”

“I thought you weren’t going to worry any more,” said my husband.

“Normal rules don’t apply in a hurricane,” I snapped.

A few nights later, I was snacking on some corn chips when I felt a twinge in one of my molars. “Ooh,” I said, “Better put the chips away. I’m afraid this tooth might need some expensive dental work.”

“Are you worrying again?” asked my son. “I thought you promised not to.”

“That was before my tooth acted up,” I said, sharply. “You’re young, so you wouldn’t know.”

A few days after that our car needed towing to a garage because it wouldn’t start. “I’m afraid we’re going to find that the repairs are more than a few decimal places,” I muttered. Alas, somebody heard me.

“Busted!” the other son said. “I think you need a new resolution. I know — What about all the stuff you promised you’d give away or send somewhere, once the pandemic was over and you didn’t have to hoard toilet paper or hand sanitizer any more?”

“You don’t know that the pandemic is over….”

“Well, it’s letting up.”

“You don’t know that. It could be just like the eye of a hurricane—ready to start up again with another variant.”

“Even so, there’s still a lot of clutter you swore you’d get rid of. How about just clearing out stuff you know you’ll never use again? From the attic? Like the sheets and blankets from our toddler beds?”

“How do you even know about those?” I asked him.

“Or the boxes of books that you don’t even like, but couldn’t bring yourself to throw out? Surely some place will take them.” That was the other son.

“Or all those old paint cans in the garage?” said my husband.

“Those are yours,” I told him, pleased to score at least one point in all the contention. “Or that broken treadmill?” they all asked. As one, they said, “You promised!”

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a family that remembers your promises!

“My goodness,” I said, “you’re all full of ideas about what I can do. How about you help me, with all of that?”

Suddenly everybody was very busy.

I am left with one very clear resolution that now is the exact right time for me to make: “From now on whenever I make a resolution, I will keep my big mouth shut!”

That’s one resolution I intend to keep.

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Judy Epstein

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