I always resist this business of New Year’s resolutions. It’s not a bad idea, but there is little to vouch for it in terms of outcomes. I mean, did you really loose those ugly pounds you vowed to shed a year ago? Are you really a better conversationalist as you were, last year, sure to be? And, come on, did you actually put the money aside for that trip to Tuscany? Well, neither did I.

But it’s kinda fun. I mean, what makes us so blatantly human is the idea that we think we can be better. The thing is – we really can be better.

And we all know that. I mean we have total control over how much we eat, or drink, or how well we apply ourselves toward self improvement. The real issue is that we think there is always the next year in which to do all those wonderful things.

Obviously, there may not be another year. Just as obviously, there may be decades more to absorb our procrastination. Obviously, we will do what we always do and the chips will fall where they may.

Happiness in the new year is not a function of loosing weight, being a better conversationalist or even having the money for a season in the Tuscan sun. Happiness is more closely related to being thankful for life, health, friends and companionship. You got that – you got a lot.

So, I wish for each of you that kind of HAPPY NEW YEAR! However – should you get to Tuscany, and there is an extra room, give me a call. I could be happier.

For longer than I can remember, I have considered the winter solstice to be the turning point of the calendar year. In my mind the new year begins then. The darkest night, heralding the coming light – the re-borning of life, the warming of our souls – all those things having been passed down to us from our forebears in the northern European tradition, huddled around night fires to be certain they survive the long darkness. Yeah, I know that’s a bit melodramatic but you get the picture. Take away TV, computers and central heat and I – 95 we’re not so far apart.

A little drumming, a little single malt, a little holding hands in the fading light of our fire reflecting off the trees and the long night is duly acknowledged and honored. CA and I have had that little ceremony several times when schedule and weather allowed. It’s our little ceremony of the cycle of life.

The one central idea of any solstice ceremony is hope. The coming light and life that rises from the darkness and death of deepest winter. The days become longer and sunrises come earlier streaming in our windows, awakening us long before we are ready.

What is hope but the expectation of good things. Here are a couple of items on my Hope List.

I hope for health. Without it none of this other stuff matters much. What that would mean for me is to eat less, drink less, move more and clean up my mind. I’ll not bore you with messy particulars about how I am proposing to reach those goals. Actually there are none yet. That’s the hard part. I’m open to suggestions. I know you have it figured out already.

I hope for peace. There’s probably a better chance for me loosing my belly fat than peace breaking out around the world. Yet, peace could take root in my life if I tried – I think. At least some of the books of he Blessed say that. For that to happen, however, I’d have to put forgiveness to work and that has not been my favorite thing through the years. There’s nothing quite as tasty as a few long-lasting, deeply rooted and completely justifiable grudges. It’s actually a little scary to contemplate what might happen should I give them up and all that energy used to maintain and nurture those grudges is freed up. What would I do with it? What would it do with me?

There are many lesser things to hope for, but those two items could occupy me for a while. The light is surely coming. The path will be in plain sight. So be Healthy. Be Peace. Spread your special light about. Let it shine on me.

Jerry Henderson

CA called from the other room, “What are you laughing at?” “The funnies”, I answered. It’s been a while since I was a regular at the funnies. I don’t know, I just stopped reading them some time ago and for some mysterious reason, I picked up the habit again recently and haven’t missed a day since – specially the Sunday Funnies.

Remember that radio program where that guy read the funnies? You’d think, “Read the funnies on the radio? Crazy!” But it worked. I think it was Uncle Bob out of Lakeland Florida – I’m not sure. It’s been a while. Many of you are too young for such reflections. Count your blessings.

Then, remember in July 1945 – whoops! You probably don’t – when the newspaper deliverymen were on strike in New York, that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia read Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie on the radio. I remember the MovieTone News at the the Istrouma Theater a block from my house, that showed the Mayor doing this. He was quite good. There were pictures of kids glued to the radio painting pictures in their minds as the Mayor described the scene in each frame.

Yeah, I know, most of you were not around in 1945. But I’ll bet you have tried to explain a comic strip to someone as you read the funnies, in effect, reading the funnies to them.

I went for years without even looking at the funnies with the exception of an occasional Doonesbury. I was drawn to it’s intellectual content, being the intellectual type myself. Then one day a friend of mine asked me if I had seen Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine that day. I said that I hardly ever read the funnies and had never read that one. He said that I should check it out. Well, to make a long story short, I did check it out and laughed out loud. It’s now one of my favorites. It’s very intellectual.

Sometimes I don’t get it, which is a good reality check for me. I always feel better when I check with some other intellectual friend of mine and he or she failed to “get” it as well. l figure Pastis is probably in therapy and can be forgiven for sailing one over our heads now and then. It does give me pause to think that there is a place where someone actually “gets” some of those weird strips. Know what I mean? Like maybe in Congress?

The Sunday funnies are a priority now. It must be that hormonal thing that happens in old men, or more likely the boredom while waiting for my next doctor’s visit, but I never miss the funnies anymore. They are printed on heavy coated stock that makes them show up better and also lends a more substantial “feel” to the experience. I have found that in my latter years, substantial has come to mean more to me than ever before. It’s that old guy hormonal thing, I’m sure.

Wait a minute: do old guys have hormones? I have to check that out  on Wikipedia.

I’ll never forget the first time a lovely, intensely desirable and patently unavailable young woman called me “Sir”. It had to happen. I had been getting older and new batches of “children” were coming of age and looking as good as a crown roast on my table.

In my middle years, and I’ll leave you to decide what that was, I found myself single and not knowing “jack” about what that meant. I found out what it meant, but not as an adult, but rather as the teenager that never was. That’s another story that we will not explore at this time.

When that young and bursting at the seams woman called me “Sir”, it gave me pause to calculate the probable differential in our ages – as though that made any difference to anyone in my particular neighborhood – and it became clear that she could have, under wildly improbable circumstances, been my daughter. So I replied, in my most circumspect manner, “Yes ma’am”. I have been handling similar situations pretty much the same since.

I can guarantee that more people of either sex say “Sir” rather than some other greeting such as “Hey Baby”, which I heard only once in a disco in the mid 70’s. It scared the hell out of me at the time.

Anyway, what I am thinking about has nothing to do with much at all except that I don’t think about this stuff unless I am home alone on a cold dreary night. So, I’m home alone on a cold dreary night.

To take the edge off the evening, I have some excellent domestic blue cheese and some fantastic herbed crackers. To wash that down I have an adequate measure of a name brand Northern Scandinavian spirit. I feel an inspiration coming on. Where is that Daniel Silva novel? It’s not nearly as bad as I, at first, thought.

Be well, Dear Ones, and stay tuned.

I’m Jerry Henderson