I always make my New Year’s resolutions after New Year’s. It doesn’t really matter when I make the list, since it always starts with the same thing: Quit sugar.
Which is why I have to wait until after New Year’s after all the brunches and New Year’s Day celebrations are over. There’s no way I’m going to a party and not partaking in the Gâteau St. Honoré. I’m a caramel addict, and someone is bound to attempt the hardest dessert in the world. And I am bound to find out who, and show up with my own spoon.
The problem with resolutions, especially if you have a long list, is it becomes daunting. And within hours, impossible. If you are resolving to change something (which. let’s face it, is what the whole thing is about), you’re also realizing you’re not happy with who you are. Then you start to ask yourself why you let your self-esteem drop into the porcelain bowl.
And the longer the list of things that need to change, the more you realize you’re a miserable sack of loserness. And once you realize that about yourself, you might as well eat carmel til you crystallize, and Schraffts’ comes to your house and folds you into little cellophane wrappers and you find yourself hanging on a hook at an XtraMart next to a tidy bag of spice drops.
I once went to the Mad Russian, a hypnotist in Boston. They called him Puff Daddy because he had so much success with smokers giving up their habit. I made an appointment as soon as I heard about him.
On the way, there my husband asked me what I was going for. I said, Ssugar, but that’s way too general. I can’t imagine he could stop me from sugar altogether. I have to narrow it down to maybe just candy. That way I can still have cookies and pie and ice cream and cake … red velvet in particular, and mint chip to be specific, and lemon meringue if I’m forced to make a choice, and Tate’s chocolate chip hands down.
I thought if I could give up my candy desire, that would be enough for me to justify the $65 fee.
There were about 30 of us in the room. The Mad Russian went from person to person asking the same question in his thick Russian accent. “You hef pain?” he asked the first guy. The guy said yes. “Where pain?” Puff Daddy asked. “In my knee,” the guy answered. “What you want to give up here?” Puff asked. The guy said “Alcohol.” “Good,” Puff said. Next guy. “You hef pain?” “Yes,” the next guy said. “Where pain?” “My shoulder. For years I’ve had a bad shoulder.” “What you want to give up?” Puff Daddy asked. “Heroin,” the next guy said. And so on down the line. I was about fourth from the last. The next two people wanted to stop smoking, and for the rest of the time, it went from cigarettes to alcohol to cocaine to heroin, back to cigarettes. I was sitting there thinking, I’m in the wrong place. When he gets to me, what am I going to say? I want to give up Twizzlers?
This piece isn’t about the Mad Russian, although I miraculously gave up candy for a full year. This piece is about making resolutions and sticking to them. My husband doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions. And I wouldn’t need to make them either if I had his moderation gene. When they gave that one out I must have been at CVS buying a few large bags of red dye No. 2.
So here it is a few days after everyone else has either broken their resolutions or they’re teetering, and I’m about to start day one. The big change I’ve decided this year is that I will do something different. I’ll not use the word “quit” next to “sugar.” It’s got built-in failure, something I should have known all these years. I’ll take a page from my husband’s playbook. I’ll say I will be moderate with sugar.
But just as I’m about to write my short list starting and ending with No. 1, I remember my friend Gerry’s adage. And I decide that will work for 2023. He said, and I quote: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Now that’s one I promise to keep.