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Did you celebrate New Year's? You did? Mind if I ask why?
I can see celebrating the first day of the year if you're a race horse. On January first all race horses celebrate a birthday regardless of when they were born. Foals become yearlings, yearlings become 2-year-olds and so on. For that reason, as the New Year begins, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all race horses out there a happy birthday.
But most of us are not race horses, don't own horses or even bet on horses, so what's the big deal with the first day of January?
Experts who've studied this question a lot more than I have say people use the arbitrarily chosen first day of the year to begin all kinds of self-improvement efforts to ensure the year ahead is better than the disastrous year just ended.
What do most people resolve to do to make their lives better?
According to a recent national poll more than 50 percent of Americans want to make their lives better by appreciating their loved ones and spending more time with their families. The problem with this resolution is that studies say electronic devices like iPods and personal computers tend to isolate people, allowing them to spend more time alone - playing with their devices.
Another popular New Year's resolution is the old “get in shape” routine: “Beginning January first, I resolve to get up early EVERY morning and go to the gym for one or two hours of vigorous exercise of a cardio-vascular nature,” say the deluded people in this group. Serious health nuts at gyms are forced to endure an invasion of these types every January but also know that most - if not all - will give up all forms of exercise and disappear by Groundhog Day.
Some who have tried the gym routine in years past will often decide buy themselves expensive home exercise gizmos, instead. After all, the more money you spend on your personal gym equipment, the more likely you are to use it.
Yeah, right.
If you're thinking of getting your own personal exercise equipment and are not fixed on the whole first-of-the-year business, just wait a month or two. By mid-February you'll be able to pick up all kinds of hardly used equipment for pennies on the dollar from those people who resolved to get healthy in 2006 with their own personal in-the-home gym.
Those who resolve to quit smoking and join the rest of us indoors instead of freezing to death outside the door near the loading dock are on the right track. Giving up a nasty $5-$10-a-day habit is a pretty good idea that requires no expensive membership fees or equipment charges.
It can also help you with another popular resolution - to get out of credit card debt. Just take the money spent on cigarettes and bet it all on a sure winner at the track and all your problems are solved.
Happy New Year!
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is
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