Disturbingly, the OED opens its definitions of the many and various meanings of "RESOLUTION" with: "Death; a state of dissolution or decay". So perhaps the title of this entry could equally have been "New Year's Dissolutions", which is not what I want at all. (It's all the fault of the latin, of course: "Resolve...[L. resolvare, f. as RE- + solvere loosen, dissolve]").
New Year's Resolutions in this house have, over the years, accreted a substantial layer of ritual: on New Year's Day Joanne passes around to family (and hapless guests) slips of paper and pens; all present (no exceptions) must then write out their resolutions , and when done seal them with sealing-wax and pass them over to be put with all the others into a large envelope to be marked "Resolutions: 2010". The envelope is then put into pigeon-hole with similar envelopes, dating back some fifteen or twenty years. (Last night one or two old envelopes were opened - but only the original writer may read therein. Thus Norah's sealed entry from 1999, decoratively labeled "Crazy Sexy Cool ...Hello Nasty" must (sadly) remain unopened until the author returns.)
(Time to gybe, and head upwind - and try to weather the tricky headland of workshop resolutions by a series of crab-wise tacks......)
Last night also gave me an opportunity to review a decade or so's worth of my own resolutions, which always seem to include work and workshop goals along with the merely personal (eat less cookies, go for more walks, floss teeth, be nicer to dogs and children and the local librarians, etc. etc.). These (the workshop) goals remain much the same from year to year, although some trends are evident. Along with the constantly repeated "keep shop tidier" (or "clean shop at end of day", or "put tools away" etc) there's also a da capo every year for "wear safety glasses!!", "use dust mask!!", "don't breath solvent fumes!!".
Some things however have dropped off the list - not because any change has taken place, but because the resolution has been accomplished - that is, it has dissolved, disintegrated and decayed into its constituent parts. In other words, it has died.
Such is the case perhaps with the issue of "Workshop Records", otherwise called "Business Records". In the 80's and 90's I seem to have been much concerned with the need to "keep better business records!", "write orders out in book!", "Remember original quote!", "ALWAYS make a note of owner of repair items and contact info and ATTACH to item!!. This sort of resolve is much less apparent in the 00's. (Perhaps resolutions can work unconsciously, free from any active resolve, and in this way mysteriously and subtly come to pass? I'm afraid that this may be wishful thinking.)
It might be, I find myself thinking, that if one's resolutions are repeated year after year, perhaps it's a bit silly to be making them at all.
(Pause for reflection).
No, on the whole I think it's OK to persist. Accomplishment is not the point, surely? Only the declaration of intent is important. The writing of the list, or the frantic effort to come up with anything at all to write while under the compulsion of the high-priestess of family tradition, is possibly an act of confession from which we emerge shriven into the new decade, hopeful that, if not clean, the shop will be at least cleaner, that some tools will be put away at the day's end, and that there will be fewer orphaned broken chairs sitting glumly in the waiting room.
(To be honest, I have to say that "shriven" is not part of my active vocabulary. I had to look it up yesterday whilst reading "Wolf Hall", which promises to join "Cloud Atlas" and "The Kindly Ones" as one of the very few (fiction) books I've bothered to read all the way through in the last year.)
Hmmm. I see that I have successfully avoided actually making any new resolutions at all for 2010. I'll do it later........In the meantime, here's one way of ensuring a daily reminder of safety resolves:
The fading letters on the pane read: "PUT YOUR SAFETY GLASSES ON"