Rosenblum: Next year, we'll do it better

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 25, 2013 - 5:53 PM

So? How’d it go?

This was the year you were going to buy less stuff, stress less in traffic, eat less junk, fight less with the ex, laugh more at your mistakes, and embrace your brother-in-law’s Duck Dynasty beard. Remember?

But this being the holiday season and we being humans, things probably didn’t go quite that smoothly. As a member of a religiously blended clan, which offers equal parts joy and oy, I’m kicking myself, too, about good intentions that escaped like steam evaporating into the winter air.

Here’s some cheery news. Less than a week from now, we all get something called the New Year, a perpetually forgiving opportunity to kick-start our lives and reassess our goals. Somebody was really thinking when they devised that concept.

So, before we forget and make the same mistakes next year, let’s make a list and check it twice — a month — until Black Friday returns.

1) Pick one word, and one word only, to describe your emotions after all the gifts were unwrapped.

“Delighted” with the joy your thoughtful choices brought?

“Resentful” that your carefully selected gems were unceremoniously tossed into a heap?

“Guilty” for raising children afflicted with “affluenza”?

If you answered “delighted,” please stand over there by yourself for a moment.

The rest of us? First, remember that gift-giving is fraught, at no time on a larger scale than this. It’s just stuff. Don’t take reactions too personally. Second, secretly buy yourself something you really want. It helps. Third, tally up your gift budget for 2013 (you DID have a budget, right?) and promise to spend one-third less next year. Give that one-third to charity, which reminds me:

2) Give away stuff all year long.

Minnesotans are a generous bunch. What other state can brag of being a victim of its own success on Give to the Max Day in November, raising $9 million before noon, when computers were shut down temporarily by technical difficulties?

It’s good to teach our kids about red kettles and toy drives. It’s better to explain to them in language they can understand that children their age go hungry every day in this state. Many of them have nowhere to rest their heads at night. This night.

With new gifts covering bedroom floors, consider filling up a few bags of gently used or duplicate toys, games and books to donate.

The New Year also is a nice time to check out yearlong volunteer opportunities, especially with kids. One of my favorites is doinggoodtogether.org, a national nonprofit based in Minneapolis, whose sole aim is making family volunteering easy and fun.

3) Slow down. That goes for driving, judging others, drinking, and constructing the 400-piece Techno Gears Marble Mania Accelerator.

4) Buy local next year. No matter how that ungrateful receiver responds, you’ll have made the day of the gift’s creator.

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