Wow! Already the last week of 2016 and a time when thoughts turn to resolutions. Many of us, especially the perpetually organized, yours truly included, feel compelled to add a tad bit more pressure to life by setting new goals for January 1 and beyond that often have little chance of surviving past Marti Gras.

My personal list starts slowly and easily with resolving to write a column about resolutions. See, that isn’t so difficult.

My second resolution, after resolving to write about resolutions is to use better words this coming year. I like words and how specific words can influence and strengthen a sentence or message. I just had an exchange with a longtime teacher friend who says she stresses over the just-right family photos she chooses to share. I told her that I feel her pain due to my obsession with exactly the right word and eventually using every one of the quarter-million or so words offered by our language.

Years ago I had a university professor who advised me to use the word “obviously” less. He said that my use of that word in conversation–as in “Obviously, we should take great care in electing public officials”–exposed another flaw in my character. That flaw: always thinking I am right.

If I keep scouring my mind for issues on which I could base resolutions, this could become an awfully long column.

Due to my professor’s suggestion, I resolved to drop the use of “obviously” but needed a word to fill the void. I chose “alas”. I’ve done pretty well over the last fifty-odd years since receiving that advice mainly because I became a teacher and I found there was precious little that is obvious to nine-year-old children. But, it was my expanded use of “alas” that has helped me the most. I owe “alas” a great debt of gratitude. It is humbling to start a sentence with “alas” right after offering a gem of wisdom. But, it helped curtail my always being right flaw. Example: “I voted for Hillary, alas…”

My next venture into resolutions was not thought out completely. As both New Year’s resolutions and the Christian custom of giving up a treasure for the season of Lent are impositions, I decided to double dip and get a jump on Lent by resolving on January 1st to give up watermelon until Easter. At that point I lived in a rather intemperate climate and finding a watermelon anywhere anytime before picnic season in June was miniscule. I thought myself to be rather clever. Alas (See how easily that slides into a sentence?), I was punished for my glib consideration of such weighty matters when a friend sent me a fruit-of-the-month gift for the holidays and, wouldn’t you know it, on or about February first a small, but wonderfully ripe watermelon from some exotic, far off, tropical land landed on my doorstep. What to do? What to do? I felt as if I were being tested beyond the limits of my strength. No more slippery resolutions for me!

Here’s another pearl: Don’t laugh at people who make resolutions. Don’t forget, they are being deprived of something they formerly did that used to give them a measure of comfort. Making light of their sacrifice often makes them testy. I once got a golf ball shoved in my face from a one-time friend who had resolved to quit using curse words on the links. He had hit three brand new balls into the water and didn’t take it as constructive criticism when I suggested that he use an old orb on the next attempt. By silently lodging the last ball he had in my pie-hole, he kept his resolution in fact if not in spirit.

So, this year I resolve to write a column about resolutions–check, continue to ban the word “obviously” from my vocabulary, resolve to be more humble aided by a liberal application of “alas” in my speaking and writing, and I resolve not to make slick resolutions.

Finally, I resolve not to laugh at anyone else’s stab at trying to be a better person through making New Year’s resolutions. So, fill us in, respond to this column. Writing is good for the soul and getting your resolutions out in the open will enhance the probability that you can be successful in seeing them through the year. I promise I won’t even chuckle. I learned the hard way that dental work is expensive.

Happy New Year to all our readers!