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New Year’s Resolutions That Work

How can you make resolutions you’ll actually keep?

Making general resolutions to change (”I’ll lose weight” / “I’ll stop smoking” / “I’ll do something about my job”) rarely results in actually achieving what you resolve.

Those general statements are good starts, though.

Think smart. That’s S – M – A – R – T — a way to look at your goals, to make them work for you. New Year’s resolutions are one kind of goal.
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Turning of the Year

adapted from Kenneth L. Patton, 1951, revised by Jone Lewis

The days of the year have stiffened in ice, and darkness has grown upon the land.

The season of cold and early dusk is upon us.

The sun has retreated down the sky, the living green has forsaken the earth, and the leaves have fallen.

The flowers no longer bloom, and the birds have fled to the south.

We approach the shortened days with peace, for the ancient fear is no longer on our faces.

The heavy death upon the earth is no lasting peril, and the roots in the soil are only sleeping a long sleep.

We hold the turning of the year as a promise; and the renewing of life is our solid hope. The time of returning light is known, and we ready our homes for the celebration. The sun will climb the heavens again, and the darkness will be pushed back each day.

The months of snow will give way to the months of leaves, and petals will fall upon the earth.

The young will be brought from the womb, and the shoot will burst from the seed.

We will walk upon the greening grass, and our plowshares will divide the warming soil.

In the midst of winter the promise is given of the summer season, and in the midst of darkness there comes the assurance of light.

In the time of cold comes a messenger of warmth, and in the days of death there is heard the good news of life.

Let Us Carry the Torch of Goodwill

adapted from Charles Dickens by Jone Lewis

We celebrate the winter holidays once again. Let us open our hearts, let the spirit within us walk abroad among our human neighbors and travel far and wide.

Let this season be a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time. May we keep our humor to the last.

Let us not be haunted at this season by the shadows of things that might have been.

If our past is marred by ill-will, let not the mirrors of our own yesterdays show us what we shall be in years to come.

We have the power to render others happy or unhappy. We have the power to make their days light or burdensome, and their work a pleasure or a toil.

Our power lies in words and looks, in things so small that it is impossible to add and count them up.

The happiness we give is no small matter. A good word is worth a fortune. Let no idol displace Love, even a golden one.

Let us carry the torch of goodwill, that it may banish hate.

Let us honor the holiday season in our hearts and keep it all the year.

And wish a Happy New Year to all the world!

Holidays at the Turning of the Year

At the time of the turning of the year, a question I often get asked by people outside of Ethical Culture is, “What kind of holidays does an Ethical Society celebrate?” Or, sometimes more specifically, “What do you do about Christmas?” When I testified before a judge in Illinois in December,1995 , justifying the Chicago Society’s standing as a religious organization, the judge asked, “Do you allow your members to celebrate Christmas?” I was tempted to answer, “Just try to stop an Ethical Culturist from doing something they want to do!” More seriously, the question is: what kinds of rituals and ceremonies are possible in a group that doesn’t share a common belief system?
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