By Wyatt Emmerich, Syndicated columnist
The Picayune Item
It was a rare night for my perfectly dysfunctional family. We were all sitting around the dinner table eating and chatting amicably.
I grabbed a nearby notepad and announced, “Now we are all going to help Dad write his New Year’s column. I want everybody to tell me their resolutions.”
The howl was deafening. Next time I will remember to insert earplugs first. The rare moment of tranquility was gone for the night.
I can’t tell you how many readers tell me: “I just love it when you write about your family.” If y’all only knew. As Ginny puts it, “Wyatt is great about writing what he thinks should be rather than what is.” Maybe so. But hope springs eternal and I am ever the optimist. If we learn from our failures, then my family is well on its way to perfection.
The children are at a more self-conscious age. No matter what I write, they take offense. I must be very careful, which takes the fun out of it. Oh, the real-life family columns I could be writing right now! Alas, I have sacrificed my Pulitzer for a sliver of domestic tranquility.
“Look,” I demanded of the uncooperative creatures around my dinner table, “I work hard making a living so y’all can live in the lap of luxury. Now the least y’all can do is help me out. And I don’t want jokes, absurdities or sarcasm. I want real heartfelt New Year’s resolutions.”
The Northside Sun is a family newspaper so I feel like the Emmerichs should try to be a good, solid family, representing its outstanding readers. Maybe all families are as crazy as mine and people are just less open than I am. Or maybe we really are crazy. My experience seems to confirm Faulkner’s thesis that once we dip below the surface, we’re all much more complicated than we appear to casual acquaintances.
In any event, here are the resolutions of the whacky Emmerich family:
Ruth — To read more. To play more tennis. To walk the dogs more. To eat more vegetables. To not get any checks in school. To go to bed earlier. To get my teeth straighter. To make better grades in spelling and math. To wake up when I’m supposed to. To spend more time with my grandparents. To do more chores around the house. To help Mom cook.
Ginny — To go to the beauty parlor more often. To wear makeup more frequently. To improve my tennis game. To read more. Get our front yard landscaped. Plant roses. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Get our driveway repaved. Enjoy each moment with our children. Teach kids to cook. Learn to be more assertive. To be more diplomatic. To be better at being on time. Sleep more. Read books more often. Watch more TV in order to be more well-rounded with the world around me. Remember the Rotary Club four-way test: 1) Is it the truth; 2) Is it fair to all concerned; 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships; 4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned.
Lawrence — To study more. To do my homework. To sleep more. To eat more. To be more polite to my father. To feed the dogs on time. To not chew gum at school. To eat more sushi. To cook my food more often. To read more. To grow my hair longer. To be less selfish. To have more conversations with my brother. To try to listen to more other than Kid Cudi and The Weeks. To eat more vegetables. To walk the dogs more. To eat more fruit. To pay more attention in class. To try to have less than one detention. To not allow Dad to sell the van.
John — To talk more fluently. To improve my interactions with friends at school. To be more reverent in my actions around my teachers. To try to make better grades. To be more reverent around Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Cole. To engage in quality time with my grandmother. To interact well with Mr. and Mrs. Bob Knight through mail, e-mail and visits. To help out with more necessary domestic labor. To become a better writer and thinker. To be very well able to think. To interact more with the folk in my youth group both more frequently and in a qualitative manner. To eventually be able to sweep one of the females in my youth group off her feet. To have better physical interactions with impoverished needy people by serving them food and doing charitable works amongst them. To be very well able to interact with my church’s youth group director. To be well able to donate money to the tithes at my church. To have better conversations with my mother and father. To make an old widow at my church so happy that she would sing. To go outside more.
Wyatt— To be more patient. To smile more. To be less repressive in my emotions. To let God do the work. To lose 10 pounds. To find the good and not the bad in my family. To accept my lot in life. To play more tennis. To fly more. To play more frisbee with my children. To be more attentive to my wife’s needs. To be more spontaneous. To recognize the passing of time. To grow in my Christianity. To read the Bible more. To sleep more. To deconstruct my ego. To buy an espresso machine. To upgrade our Christmas lights. To get a new car for Ginny. To be upbeat and encouraging to people. To manage people in a kinder fashion. To be a stark realist about the issues facing me. To rise above it all while still not being condescending. To emulate Jesus. To pray more. To get better at names. To be the kind of church member that draws people to our church. To be more humble. To take more vacations while I still can. To teach my children by example. To hold my tongue. To be kinder to my tennis opponents and let them win more often. To get through puberty, without killing anyone. To cry more. To laugh more. To play my guitar more. To listen to more music. To not be so serious all the time. To pay down debt. To drink and eat in moderation. To grow old gracefully. To evangelize. To plant a garden.