Trying Something New for the New Year

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Today is Oldest Junior’s Hall’s birthday. And I can’t remember the last time we celebrated his birthday on the actual date. But there was a time when that would have been unthinkable. 

You see, my oldest brother also has a December birthday, on the 21st. Throughout my childhood, we never celebrated his birthday on the 21st. Instead, he’d get mixed in with the Christmas celebration and though I don’t know how he felt about that situation, it really bothered me. I mean, how do you compete with the baby Jesus? (Hint: You don’t.) So when my own son was born just a few days AFTER Christmas, I vowed that I would always celebrate his birthday on that day, in a separate and meaningful way. 

For a few years, I did. But once he started school, it was difficult to get friends together during the holiday break so we’d celebrate his birthday a few weeks before or after Christmas. It was still a totally separate celebration; there would be no poinsettia plates or reindeer games. As he grew older and birthday parties were so done, we’d go out to eat or celebrate at home, always on the 28th. And despite the fact that a gallon of candy cane ice cream or a half-eaten buche de Noel was there for the celebrating, I’d insist on getting a regular birthday cake, topping it off with chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I wanted him to feel special, not a Christmas hanger-on. 

But then he went off to college and he wanted to spend winter break with friends. So before you could say, “But I made a vow!” he’d be asking for his birthday presents Christmas night. He didn’t even need a cake, he was stuffed from all the pecan pie. 


Or not so fine; it bothered me. I wanted to celebrate all that was unique and wonderful about this child on his special day, as I’d so religiously done for eighteen years. But eventually I realized that it had only mattered to me, not to him. I’d resisted for years a change which would have taken a bit of stress off the holidays only because I’d made up my mind to stick to some crazy promise I’d made. A resolution, if you will, that was no longer practical, and hadn’t been since he became a teenager.

Bet you can guess where this is going...

This year, rather than considering new goals and resolutions, I’d like to challenge you to review all those writing resolutions you’ve made and kept because you always have done so. You know what I mean, the goals you make year-in and year-out without thinking twice. 

And not just you. I’m taking my own advice. I get stuck following the same old To Do list every year because…well, it’s easier than doing all that extra thinking. Like, “Is this practice helping me become a better writer or have I just got into the habit of doing it?” Or “Do I set up this goal every year because it’s producing results or has it outlived its usefulness?”

It can take a while for me to make a change—and I won’t change what works!—but I’m ready to break tired habits and shake things up with new approaches. After all, the whole Birthday Boy thing turned out pretty swell and everybody’s happy. 

Be happy, y’all, making those New Year resolutions! And may all your writing dreams come true in 2023!


Linda O'Connell said...

You are the best motivator, always rock good advice. I am working on a memoir that I was told has promise. I will be busy in January revising.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Linda, that's so exciting! I'm sure it has LOADS of good stuff--no one has all those Chicken Soup books without having LOADS of interesting tales!

Gill James said...

I can relate to this. My birthday is 22 December.

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