Making resolutions for the New Year is an ancient custom. Babylonians promised their gods they would return any borrowed objects and pay debts besides. In Medieval times, knights took a ‘peacock vow’ at Christmas to reaffirm their continued commitment to chivalry.
Romans started their year by making promises to the god, Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Janus is usually depicted with two faces, one looking back, the other forward; a god for endings and beginnings. It is not known what promises the Romans made to Janus, but the populace likely had as much success at keeping them as folks do today. A 2007 British study reported 88% of all resolutions are not kept.
Of all the New Year resolutions I have been privy to, ‘do more of what makes you happy’ is the one I like best. As a wild guess, I would venture it is not as easy to keep as it sounds, largely because the stuff of life gets in the way: dirty dishes, doctor’s appointments, flossing, and such.
As a gardener, I have a secret weapon in the keeping of the ‘happy’ resolution. The seed and plant catalogues arrive in January. I slip into the corner of the sofa, catalogue in hand, lust over the offerings, dream of watching the plantings grow to profusion, and remember the joy of it all. (Conveniently, amnesia about past crop failures, weeds, and the need to water, tends to take over at this point.) So, I can do more of what makes me happy, even when the weather prevents me being outside and actually gardening.
Those of us who work at the Dunn make resolutions on behalf of the Gardens, although they come by the more pedestrian term of planning. The latter consists of thinking about how to keep the Dunn as vibrant as it has been for the last 100 years. The act of planning is our ‘peacock vow,’ a reaffirmation of our commitment to a historical garden.
As we head into 2016 we have a number of events and activities lined up. (An anticipated estate tour happens to be one of them!) It is our belief these events and activities will assist resolution keeping, whatever the resolutions happen to be. After all, ‘doing more of what makes you happy’ can help build the stamina for the more difficult resolutions made, when life was easy, during the holiday season. We will, to adapt the Babylonian’s promise of returning items, provide you a pleasant, fulfilling experience in return for borrowing your time and interest.
At this time of both ending and beginnings, we would like to thank everyone who helped make the 2015 Centennial such a splendid year and to wish you a prosperous and happy 2016. We look forward to having you visit in the spirit of keeping up your resolutions.