New Year, Old Advice

     Now, your old Uncle Blogsy has never been a great one for New Year’s resolutions.  I like the concept, and I applaud those who make them.  But as making resolutions to do better in the New Year implies that I am not perfect to begin with, I prefer not to participate.

     (As for those uncommonly enlightened souls who cry out that they hate New Year’s resolutions because there is no reason to wait for a special day to resolve to change things, I wish you the very best success with your resolutions of October 27 or May 14, but don’t quite see what the fuss is about.  Making New Year’s resolutions doesn’t mean you CAN’T make resolutions any other day, like, say, March 18th, when you swear never to chug that much Guinness right after all that corned beef and cabbage or July 7th, when you resolve to make sure your bathing suit is secure before jumping off the high dive, or maybe on February 15th, when you swear you will check the first name of your beloved before mailing that…where were we?)

     Anyway, New Year’s or not, postcards have always been willing to urge you on to self-improvement, whether they were dead serious, like the one at the top of the column or done for the sake of the joke, like the following.

     (By the way, was our language able to support the reading :Never get tight, said the NOT”?  Or is that a twenty-first century idiom?).  Other admonitions came from the writings of experts (defined, then as now, as “anyone whose remark I like”) It was an era that believed in the power of positive thinking, even before that phrase was invented.

     In fact, it may surprise you to find so many life counsellors, in an age when urgent effort and keeping your nose constantly to the grindstone were considered the only ways to success, went around suggesting that you could go too far that way.

     Resolutions frequently involve swearing off bad habits.  Some of our ancestors’ heroes  picked out bad habits you might not expect.  (Fra Elbertus was a nickname of Elbert Hubbard, one of the busiest life counsellors of his day.)

     Another common sort of resolution is the one where you vow to get better at something.  This kind was just as common in 1910, when this reflection was available on a postcard.

     This is not to say that every single bit of advice provided by the benevolent postcard companies is especially useful.

     Or even all that explicable.  Still, I will say this is the easiest resolution I’ve seen so far this year.

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