In the Way Back

Good Habits and New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve not done well with New Year’s Resolutions in the past. By February, usually, if I had one, I’d already forgotten it. 2016 was different, though. I set a resolution and actually kept it!

Prior to 2016 I’d been lucky to clean house, at the most, six times annually (think “the Federal holidays”). However, last January 1st I resolved to clean one room every week. I’m proud to report that as of the final day of the Year, except for the occasional missed week when I was away from home to babysit grandkids or help out the family, and a 5-week period where I’d been overworked and under the weather, an unprecedented good habit was formed.

Just to clarify, in case you got worried up there, I have always cleaned the toilets weekly and I try to give the faucets a little swipe every day. The toilets and faucets don’t fall under the same category as house cleaning.

Certainly not a New Year’s Resolution, but equally remarkable, was another good habit I took up in the final quarter of the year. At the end of September when I went for my dental check-up, there was a new hygienist at the dentist’s office who gave me the best cleaning ever. As I was leaving the exam room she said, “You need to brush twice a day. Use the tongue scraper in the morning and floss at night.” Yes, Ma’am!

I am amazed with myself and proud to say that I have not missed my twice-a-day dental care since that noteworthy day. My grade at that last check-up was 1+. I’m heading for my Zero! Question: I’ve known forever I was supposed to brush twice a day. I wonder why this particular hygienist on this particular day actually got me to be vigilant about it?

And so we arrive at my story.

In The Way Back

We made many cross-country trips when I was a child, driving to D.C. to see Daddy’s sisters, to Oklahoma and Florida to see Mommy and Daddy’s folks, and on 3-week vacations to Grand Canyon, Disneyland, New York City, and other parts of the great U.S. of A.

In the olden days, except for race cars, they didn’t have seat belts in cars. Safety being a concern on those long road trips, Daddy found it upon himself to invent seat belts for our car, a 1957 Pontiac Safari station wagon. He’s not here now to ask, but I assume Daddy must have somewhere found seat belts made for small planes, or something, which he installed in the station wagon for our 1959 vacation trip to Disneyland.

When seat belts eventually became common in passenger cars, there were still no safety laws requiring that everyone buckle up when riding or driving. Shoot, back then, little kids could even ride standing up in the front seat. On a lengthy road trip, one or two of us would frequently ride stretched out in the Way Back to read or take a nap. Even Good Old Aunt Mary (G.O.A.M. to my family) climbed into the Way Back when it was her turn to fix lunch. I’ll never forget Mary calling out after she’d finished making the sandwiches, “It’s buffet today. Everyone file to the back.”

As an adult, when I had kids of my own and would borrow my folks' current station wagon for a trip to the beach or such—though all cars had them by then—seat belt laws had still not been enacted. Instead of making the boys buckle up, I thought it was hilarious for them to “stage fight” in the Way Back for the amusement of passing drivers, while I drove placidly along “unaware” of the mayhem going on behind me.

One time, when I was in my natural foods/no sweets phase, the folks had come to pick up the boys to keep for a week. I handed Daddy a list of all the foods the boys could and could not eat. He took a brief glance at the list (Daddy taught Speed Reading at the local Junior College) and then looked me in the eye. “All the whole wheat in the world won’t help if you don’t wear your seat belts.”

I pretty-much got the same lecture from my sister last week—only about my current bad habit of not wearing my sunglasses. “All the starches with fruits and vegetables in the world won’t help your eyes if you don’t wear your sunglasses.”

I knew Daddy was right back then and I know my sister is right now. I immediately got more serious about my eye health and have started to pay attention to wearing my sunglasses. The admonition by my sister has become my New Year’s Resolution for 2017: to protect my eyes and actually wear my clip-on sunglasses whenever I go out. I made a good start on this in the last few days of 2016. If recent history is an indicator, I may be on the way to keeping my resolution for 2017!

1957 Safari 1957 Pontiac Safari station wagon

Happy New Year!