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Rated: E · Column · Biographical · #1541784
A different type of New Year's resolution.
Trading Miles for Smiles

After weeks of shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, oohing and ahhing over gifts we loved and some we couldn’t identify, my husband and I escaped the confines of our home and went for a drive. The weather outside had been frightful far too long, and the rainy, gray days were reeking havoc on our otherwise good nature. It seemed that our attitudes and platitudes were in need of a complete overhaul. Tension mounted and our usually light conversations began to growing far too serious. Perhaps you have experienced such a scenario. One side of the conversation sounds something like this.

“You bought what?”

“You paid what for that thing? Well, that was a total waste of a days work.”

“Tell me again why we had to buy the paper boys’ cousin’s baby sitter a gift?”

From there it is doomed to escalate and a fallout shelter may be the only means of escape. Then it hits, the ultimate showdown, that thing which stands between you and your opponent like twenty paces of dry dirt and loaded weaponry. It is the thing from which few marriages recover. “What do you mean your mother’s coming for two weeks?”— Get the idea?

The drive was quiet, mainly because neither of us was talking to the other, but after an hour of riding around in dreary silence we looked at each other and began laughing at the triviality of the situation. We decidedly chalked the whole experience up to a sudden crash brought on by carb loading and sugar dosing. Seemingly, we had attempted to soothe holiday anxieties with sugary indulgences and sacrificial offerings of our credit card statements to the fire gods in hopes of absolution. In the end honest communication and a good laugh had worked best. Who knew?
It may have been dull and gray outside, but inside our car was glowing with warmth.

“So, what’s your new year’s resolution?” I asked.

“You know I don’t make New Years resolutions.”

“I know, but if you were to make one, what would it be?”

After a momentary pause he said, “I guess something like: I resolve to be thankful for a job that supports my family, to be healthy enough or just plain lucky enough to keep it, and to have enough faith we can keep our heads above water this year.”

Wow! In one sentence he had summed up not only his resolution, but his hopes, his fears, and his dreams for an entire year. I guess I’d never given much thought to how much of his life was determined and controlled by forces beyond his control.
All I could say was, “thanks.” I couldn’t tell him what I thought of his resolution because it couldn’t be categorized as good or bad. It was much too personal. To me, it was the most honorable and unselfish New Years resolution I had ever heard. My husband smiled and turned his attention to driving while I paused to reflect on past resolutions.

I discovered that my past resolutions involved one person, me. They were purely self-centered and self-occupying. For the past thirty odd years, my resolutions involved losing weight. I was focused on low cal or low carb, exercising, and avoiding sugar, butter, and bread at all costs. Thing was, I had set myself up for failure. First of all, margarine was and never has been an option for replacing butter. Chocolate was and still is my best friend, and bread is—well, bread is just impossible to live without. What can I say, I love good food. Sure, there were times I actually stuck to a diet, lost a few pounds, and felt great for a while. I found I could keep it off as long as I ate miniscule amounts of tasteless foods, feigned fullness, and wasted many a dollar on doodads, miracle cures, and exercise equipment that eventually relocated to the nearest Salvation Army drop off bin.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire anyone with the effort and determination to accomplish what I couldn’t. It was a worthy goal, but one that wasn’t worth wasting my life worrying over. This year I had already decided to forgo the aforementioned feat of fate and have no resolution at all, but now I’ve decided to make a brand new one. Instead of making myself miserable, I’ve pledged to make others feel better. My New Year’s resolution is to intentionally show kindness, to encourage someone on purpose. I hope to make someone else’s life better because I have chosen to care. There is no money or personal anguish involved, just a genuine heartfelt gesture of goodwill.

A simple smile can head off adversity. Have you noticed that when you smile, someone else returns the favor? The possibilities of kindness are endless. Tell your children how important they are to you, and how proud you are of them. They grow up so fast, and you don’t want them saying one day that they never heard those words from you. Pat someone on the back for a job well done instead of thinking you could have done it better yourself.

With times being what they are, the gift of kindness is a dire necessity. The elderly and the small can easily go unnoticed, and as you can plainly see, a hard working, well meaning husband can be easily overlooked. Kindness is something we can all give regardless of financial or physical limitations. It knows no boundaries because it has a tendency to spread upon dispersal. If we all choose to spread a smile, share a hug, give of our time and our talents, our atmosphere would always seem warmer. I challenge you to try it for yourselves.
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