The Resolutions Thing

Max and I have a relaxed attitude to this whole New Year’s Resolutions thing. We like to set our hurdles low.

I thought that “eat less pie” was an acceptable target for me in 2015. For Max “stay awake between meals” would be a good challenge.

“My New Year’s Resolution List usually starts with the desire to lose between ten and three thousand pounds.”
—Nia Vardalos

So, where did all this hoohah about New Year’s resolutions come from, anyway?

The Babylonian god of resolutions. Nah...this is just a random Babylonian demon.

The Babylonian god of resolutions. Nah…this is just a random Babylonian demon.

It goes way back. We can blame the ancient Babylonians who used to make formal promises at the beginning of each year to pay their debts and return borrowed items. What a concept.

On the other hand, Babylonian festivals lasted an exhausting eleven days so they may have invented the whole resolution thing because they ran out of alternatives like Sumerian Twister and Ziggurat limbo.

In 154 BC, the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the start of the New Year.

Up until then, New Years was a floating holiday usually celebrated in March.

Having set the date, the Romans associated the season with their god Janus – the god of doorways, dontcha know.

I one of Janus' faces smoked a cigar, could the other one blow smoke circles? Curious minds want to know.

If one of Janus’ faces smoked a cigar, could the other one blow smoke circles? Curious minds want to know.

Janus was unique among the Roman gods in that he had one face on the front of his head and one on the back.

The Romans imagined him looking forward into the future and backward into the past. Or maybe he was a politician. Bada boom, snorf snorf.

Anyway, the Romans would annually promise Janus that they would clean up their acts and do better in the coming year.

Seems that every major religion and civilization has embodied some annual resolution-making period. Apparently we are hard-wired to make promises that we can not keep.

The winners in the New Year’s Resolution category were the knights of the Medieval era who took their “Peacock Vows” at New Years to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

You will no doubt remember that it was Jacques de Longuyon who, in 1312, wrote “The Vows of the Peacock.” It was one of the most popular romances of the 14th century, better than Twilight, and would have been on Amazon Prime had Kindles been available. The book, actually a chanson, introduced the concept of the Nine Worthies.

These are the Nine Worthies. Like the Rockettes they are all about the same height.

These are the Nine Worthies. Like the Rockettes they are all about the same height.

The Worthies were nine historical, scriptural and legendary personages who personify the ideals of chivalry as were established in the Middle Ages.

In French they are called Les Neuf Preux, meaning “Nine Valiants.” We’ll just call them the “Nine Worthy Dudes.”

The Nine Worthy Dudes include three good pagans: Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, three good Jews: Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus, and three good Christians: King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon who became famous for his tiny cubes of dehydrated soup stock.

You can thank the worthy Sir Godfrey for this fine product.

You can thank the worthy Sir Godfrey for this fine product.

These Dudes, in the aggregate, represented to the average medieval male, all facets of the perfectly chivalrous warrior.

It’s perfectly understandable, then, that less worthy knights would, at New Year’s, interrupt their quaffing of mead and eating of poached partridge to place their iron-clad hands on a peacock and make wholly unattainable promises to be more like the Nine Dudes in the year ahead.

Of course, each year the resolution would come to naught and heaping quantities of crow, remorse and guilt would take the place of the mead and partridges. This was much like what happens today.

For example, a 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail.

That 88% number sounds suspicious to me. Frankly, I suspect 12% lied even though the kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol, when they do the Bristol Stomp.

Thing is, even though we fail with the regularity of an incontinent coffee drinker in a Metamucil factory, we keep making more and more resolutions.

At the end of the Great Depression, only about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions while at the start of the 21st century, about 40% did which, coincidentally, is close to the share of folks (38%) who declare they absolutely never make resolutions.

Our resolutions are certainly more modest than in the 1300s.

Their top goal was to survive rat infestations and cries of “Bring out your dead!” whereas in 2014 the top 10 American resolutions were:

Yeah, that pretty well covers it.

Yeah, that pretty well covers it.

1 – Lose Weight
2 – Get Organized
3 – Spend Less, Save More
4 – Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 – Stay Fit and Healthy
6 – Learn Something Exciting
7 – Quit Smoking
8 – Help Others in Their Dreams
9 – Fall in Love
10 – Spend More Time with Family


Max needs to focus on #1. He’s been putting on the ounces of late and tips the scales at a whopping 16 pounds.

"I will crush your willpower with my cuteness."

“I will crush your willpower with my cuteness.”

It’s going to be tough putting him on a diet because he has mastered the “starving Maltese look” which consists of staring at the AJF or me and pretending he will soon expire unless gifted with a tasty jerky treat or poi cookie.

In a battle of wills, the Malt usually wins.

As for me, I hate to admit it, but I’ve already failed at that “eat less pie” resolution.

20 replies

  1. Max looks great; he shouldn’t change a thing. I made it to Jan 3 without soda or wine, but as of the last hour, I’ve had both. Last night nothing was on, so I was forced to watch “The Brady Brides” at 1am, and Marcia Marcia Marcia was marrying a man she met a few days earlier, and he looked just like those two maroon jogging outfit-wearing Jewfro-donning singers, replete with pornstache and all. So you have just made me relive that moment. I resolve to watch more early 80s Brady specials.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh come on, Kerbey, nobody but nobody tries to start a New Year’s resolution at the beginning of the weekend. What got into you, girl? Besides, facing that TV line up without a big glass of red is just flat out dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know. I’m making up for it now. I just finished the glass of red and am trying a Leinenkugel’s “Helles Yeah” beer. Gosh, that sounds made-up, doesn’t it? It’s real. Maybe my resolution should be to watch more Tia Carrere singing videos.


        • Now you got it! Nothing finishes off a nice glass of red fresh from the box like a tasty beer from Chippewa Falls Wisconsin. I kid, I kid, that’s actually a pretty good Pilsner if I recall correctly and I know your wine doesn’t come from a box. Not with all those screw caps on the front lawn. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Funny story: the neighbors across the street are from the Ivory Coast (no ebola) and are very nice but have no skills as far as anything requiring tools, so my husband fixes their car batteries, broken door locks, etc. And that warrants a bottle of red for Christmas from them. You see?


    • If you look at the first episode of the Brady Bunch, you’ll hear a discussion between Mike and Carol about taking tranquilizers before the wedding. I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard that a few years ago after I bought the DVDs.
      I agree with Tom on the red wine front. Definitely a must with watching that movie.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 16#?! At the height of her adorableness, my little Malt, Muffin, weighed in at a dainty 8#. Yeah, but Max is a manly dude and I know it’s all muscle. I was gonna say you, Tom, are all pie but my New Years resolution is to be so less snarky. Which was a major fail as soon as I go to work on Jan 2…

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a matter of fact I am all pie. Or pretty close; I’ve been wolfing the sweets the past few days so I shouldn’t comment on Max’s gain. As Malts go, Max is huge. Most folks think he is a mix breed but he’s pure Malt with papers (like me but my papers say “McDonalds” and that’s another story). Other folks think he is an Australian Malt because the ones from down under tend to be much bigger but Max and his ancestors are from Utah. So basically he’s just big.


  3. To paraphrase King Charles II…let not poor Max starve….just tell yourselves you’ll take the weight off when out and about walking the K streets. Just don’t set a deadline.

    Still laughing at Godfrey de Bouillon…and as for those ladies in the red wellies…!

    The doors of the temple of Janus were closed in time of peace and open in time of war so, given the way the Romans went about things, it must generally have been pretty draughty in there.

    That photograph of Max immediately aroused guilt in me…so goodness only knows what it does to you two having him implore in the flesh.

    Resolutions? I don’t make them. There’s a risk I might keep a few of them and ruin my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I already failed at my resolution to eat less pie so I may as well give up entirely. I can accept failure. In fact, I can embrace failure when it means more pie.

      Perhaps Jimmy Fallon had it right: “Thank you, New Year’s resolutions, for being like Las Vegas wedding vows: half-assed promises made by drunken idiots.”

      I also liked the snarky New Year’s card that read, “I’m making some changes in my life…if you don’t hear anything from me, you are one of them.”


    • I’m with you Helen, except a few of the nasties have already come knocking on my door. Unfortunately, when that happens, you know you ignore them at your peril.


  4. I can always count on some interesting facts and a few chortles from your posts! When I played the Bristol Stomp YouTube, Sam got all twitter-pated and has recently seemed particularly interested in videos (for some reason he thinks laying across my lap when I’m blogging is helpful). I think my only resolution for 2015 is to get Sam a pair of thumbs so he can actually do something when he sprawls across my lap. I truly think this dimwitted hound is trying to come between me and the screen in more ways than just physically! 🙂 May 2015 be full of all sorts of pawsome adventures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 60 pounds of twitter-pated hound could do some serious damage to a laptop. Does he react to dog videos? Max will occasionally approach the TV and start trying to interact if the dog on the screen is making interesting dog noises. But he seems to realize the computer is too small to house a real live canine.

      Liked by 1 person

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