New Year’s Restitutions
I had my own Mrs. Malarop in high school. The original lady was a character in Sheridan’s 1775 comedy “The Rival” who constantly misused her words. The word malapropism basically means “inappropriate.” She said things like “He is the very pine-apple (pinnacle) of politeness!” Also, “I have since laid Sir Anthony’s preposition (proposition) before her;”
My friend Mary said things like “I’ll meet you on the messaline (mezzanine).” Or, for instance, if someone missed an appointment or came on the wrong day, Mary would comment “Well, we have to make alliances (allowances) for that.” During our senior year she informed the members of our crowd that she was making her New Year’s Restitutions. We all laughed, as usual, but she was adamant that she had said what she had meant (at least in this case!).
Her plan was to do something nice (and anonymously) for people she felt she had slighted, was impatient with or hurt in some way over the past year.. She said she wanted to “repay these debts” and start afresh before she went off to college. And she did. Some of her “restitutions” consisted of things like sending movie theater tickets, gift certificates to a restaurant or discount coupons for a department store through the mail. She also ordered flowers delivered (without the sender’s name) on birthdays and other special occasions. She paid for these things with her after school job at Rusty’s, a drive in restaurant in Atlanta.
Not a bad idea. Who doesn’t have someone in their lives that would benefit from such restitutions? Mary only shared these things with her best friends. Sort of her own twist on random acts of kindness.
Four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions December 31 will eventually break them. In fact, a third won’t even make it to the end of January. That’s what time management firm director Franklin Covey found when his firm polled more than 15,000 customers about their planned New Year’s resolutions.
In December 2011 ABC news had a special report quoting Dr. Martin Binks, clinical director & CEO of Binks Behavioral Health, to learn the top five reasons why resolutions fail, and to find the solution to making the New Year more successful. Paraphrasing, they are: setting unrealistic goals like speaking fluent Chinese in a year; expecting your life to change “magically” on January 1; surrounding yourself with temptations instead of getting rid of (most of) them; making too many resolution as the fewer and simpler, the better; and going into resolution mode blind rather than making a realistic plan that will fit your life style. Walk before you run.
My friend Mary’s plan for starting off the New Year on the right foot just added to the history of New Year’s Resolutions. They began incredibly, some 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians on their New Year’s Day, March 23rd.. New Year’s Day was changed to January 1st by Julius Caesar to honor Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forward into the new
Favorite modern resolutions include: cutting down on alcohol, overspending and procrastination. We also pledge to eat healthy, exercise more, get fit, lose weight and quit smoking.. Most of these are focused on bettering ourselves. Not a bad idea either. Maybe Mary was channeling Janus, by looking both forward and backward.
And maybe that’s the way to go.