Looking Forward To A Better New Year

You know how sometimes seemingly random things happen in a certain sequence that just seems like one was destined to follow the other? It happened to me the other day as I was putting gas in my car.

It was an unseasonably mild day and with one ear I was enjoying the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. The gurgle of gas going into my car’s nozzle at a lower-per-gallon cost than we’d seen in a long while also lifted my spirits.

With the other ear I was listening–not eavesdropping–to a couple of ladies talking on the other side of the gas pumps.

One said, “I can’t believe we’re into December.”

The other gasped and said, “Yeah, we’ll be into the new year before we can blink!”

The first lady said, “I sure hope next year is better than this year,” and she said it in such a way that made me think she truly had experienced a grueling 2014.

The second lady tapped into that attitude, saying, “You got that right, 2014 hasn’t been a year to celebrate, that’s for sure.”

Suddenly, the bird songs didn’t seem so cheerful, the breeze in the trees sounded ominous rather than peaceful and the gas nozzle clanged irritatingly loud as it auto-stopped.

I started thinking about 2014 and indeed there has been a lot going on: wars in almost every corner of the world; protests at home; our military being downsized to pre-WWII levels; natural disasters; school shootings, ad infinitum–or ad nausea to be more precise.

Well, you get the picture, by the time I drove home and went to the mailbox to retrieve more good news there–bills, junk mail, etc.–I was feeling a bit blue about 2015.

As I was idly opening mail I saw an envelope from a niece who has been going through several years of cancer treatments, some which have been excruciating–more good news, I thought.

Instead, when I opened the letter it was an uplifting and positive approach to the New Year, coming from a girl whose 2014 started with bad news about cancer and continues with treatments. She has every right to be negative, but instead offered a toast to the New Year with some really good advice.

I’d like to share a few of these–I guess you’d call them New Year’s resolutions–because they fall in line with my beliefs, and maybe add a couple of my own.  These little nuggets represent the best in human nature throughout the holiday season and all year long.

Here they are:

Call up a forgotten friend; who knows, your call may be just what they need at the time.

Make a genuine effort to stay in closer touch with family and good friends.  The surest way to have good friends is to be a good one.

Be kind and thoughtful. Give compliments more than complaints. A well-placed compliment can give somebody the lift they needed to turn a corner, make a decision or just feel good about them self.

Listen and look twice as much as you talk; it’s why God gave us two eyes, two ears, but only one mouth.

Apologize if you know you were wrong. An apology does not diminish a person, it elevates them.

Don’t blow your own horn (unless you are in business, then of course it is necessary); if you have done something praiseworthy, someone will notice eventually.

Lighten up on things that aren’t a crisis; ask yourself if it will matter tomorrow, or next week. If it won’t, let it go.

Don’t discourage a beginner from taking risks; but expect mistakes and let them learn from it.

Be optimistic; pessimism seldom solves problems.

Don’t discard old-fashioned principles; they never go out of style.

If you are a man, open the door for a lady; if you’re a lady, thank him for it.

Judge each man and woman on their own merit based on their actions and how they treat you, your family and your friends.

Smile more, frown less; it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown.

Last, don’t be afraid to say “I love you” to those who mean the most to you; and repeat it often because it can never be said too much.

I think I’ll call my niece right now!

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Beaufort, S.C.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.