In tall stemmed glasses
Bloody red roast beef
With potatoes somebody mashes
Pints of creamy Guinness
And hot buffalo wings
These are a few
Of my favorite things!
(apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein)
It’s almost one week into the new year, and I can honestly say that I haven’t broken one resolution because I haven’t made any. Yes, I have thought about changing my ways, but I am not certain there is anything that needs changing. I do want to spend more time with my loved ones, give my dogs a bath more often, and wax my car now and then, but these things are not really resolutions but more like a “to do” list.
I’ve been listening to a number of people over the last few days, and everyone is talking about the resolutions they have already broken. I just stay quiet and nod sympathetically, while planning to go on my merry way doing what I want to do. It’s not like I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day (I don’t smoke at all), or drink a six pack every night (I have an occasional beer during the week), or gorge myself on spicy and fattening foods (I eat very simple healthy meals for the most part). The thing is that I do want to eat and drink what I want when I want to do so, and I don’t feel like giving up those things now or any time soon.
Over the holidays I had a few martinis here and there as I celebrated at parties. I ate the so-called unhealthy foods, drank beer as I watched football, and chomped the obligatory snacks as I pleased. If I gained a few pounds between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I really didn’t care. It was to be expected. I couldn’t see my way to “cutting back” as one friend put it or “taking it easy.” I wasn’t overdoing it as much as just enjoying myself.
Some people might think I am deluding myself; these things are detrimental to my health, and I better start realizing it. Truthfully, I have heard all the arguments against drinking, smoking, and eating; I appreciate and respect anyone who wishes to follow any diet or style of living. Want to be a vegetarian? Good luck. Want to be a teetotaler? Be my guest. Just please don’t start trying to make your choices anyone else’s.
I have known quite a few people in my circle of friends and family who did not live the “healthy” way. My Granduncle John lived to be 101 years old, and every day of his adult life he had a bottle of wine with lunch and dinner (he made his own vintages from grapes grown on his property). Uncle John also ate chunks of gorgonzola cheese regularly, all the red meats he wanted, and washed it all down with desserts and coffee and powerful grappa (made from the detritus of the winemaking process). I know this seems out of the ordinary, but he lived his life the way he wanted with no excuses. Until he was in his mid-90s, Uncle John also used to climb a ladder to fix the roof, paint his house, and tend to his grapes and garden. Was he just lucky or did he know something we didn’t know?
My grandfather’s secret (he lived until 88) was a glass or two of “hooch” before bedtime and the most putrid cigars anyone can imagine; another uncle (who died at 94) enjoyed unfiltered cigarettes well into his 90s (and he started smoking when he was 13), and various other relatives still eat pepperoni like bananas and drink wine or beer like it’s bottled water. Do I advocate such a path? No! I don’t tell people how to live their lives; I am just happy to see them live.
On the other hand I have known “health nuts” who are equally happy and contented. They eat their alfalfa sprout sandwiches and drink their green tea and jog ten miles a day. I am an equal opportunity friend and relative; I basically let everyone go his or her own way as long as they don’t infringe on my lifestyle. When my cousin from California starts moaning about “all that cholesterol” and the “impurities in my food,” I just smile and walk away.
I know a few young women who are so conscious of their weight that they have started to worry me. I mean, will one or two pigs-in-the-blanket ruin their diets? Will one glass of wine? One dish of ice cream? The thing that worries me most is that this watching of weight can become an obsession and then descend into something far worse. I have also known a good friend who jogged daily, ate sparingly, never drank or smoked, and had regular medical check-ups. Although never sick a day in his life, he died in his driveway while putting out the garbage from a massive heart attack.
One thing I know for certain is that life is too short; therefore, I believe I want to live my days in a way that makes me happy. I am not going to change the way I enjoy living to please anyone. I can recall going to a party once and running into my doctor. Holding an alcoholic drink in one hand and using the other to take the cigarette in and out of his mouth, he reminded me of his warnings during my visit earlier that week: cut back on the red meats, lose a few pounds, watch the alcohol. I felt like saying something to him, but I refrained because it wasn’t worth it. He was making his choices and I would make mine.
I am not writing this to praise any way of life; I just want to advocate living one’s life in a way that makes each day a pleasure. So, lift a glass of cheer (whether it’s scotch or herbal tea) and toast 2006! Enjoy yourself and eat and drink what makes you happy, at least that’s my philosophy for the new year. That’s not a resolution; it’s a way of life.