Get out your dishpans and resolutions! There’s a new year coming

Dorothy Wilhelm’s mother, Marion Conway, pictured in the front row between the two boys, traditionally welcomed the New Year by banging on a metal dishpan.
Dorothy Wilhelm’s mother, Marion Conway, pictured in the front row between the two boys, traditionally welcomed the New Year by banging on a metal dishpan.

The discordant clanging began promptly at midnight.

It sounded like someone beating on a dishpan with a huge wooden spoon. This was my mother welcoming the New Year. She was beating on a metal dishpan with a huge wooden spoon. She said that this would discourage evil spirits in the year ahead. There was nothing in our cultural makeup to suggest that evil spirits had been a problem. I never knew if she really expected some positive result or she just liked to beat the heck out of dishpans.

The rustic celebration was acceptable in rural Montana but not so much after we moved to Spokane.

We didn’t live in what you could call a classy neighborhood, but it was definitely a no-dishpan zone. However, on the first New Year’s Eve after we arrived in the Lilac City, Mr. Barnes from across the street came to say that the constant dishpan bashing was disturbing him and his elderly mother.

My mother paused briefly in the midst of her bashing, pointed her spoon at him and remarked, imperiously, “Flush him down the toilet!”

Then she went right on beating. The Barnes family moved away in the spring.

“See, it worked,” my mother said.

Mother was a woman who knew what she wanted, and on each New Year’s Day, after she had the year properly welcomed, she insisted that her family and acquaintances make long lists of New Year’s Resolutions. Apparently she thought we all had lots of room for improvement. She didn’t make a list for herself, preferring to spend the time passing judgment on the value of our resolutions and finding them definitely wanting.

Today, of course, we don’t have to agonize over our resolutions.

All we have to do is decide on the area we’d like to improve and choose the app for our mobile phone that will get us there. All sorts of motivational and affirmation apps are available but my favorite is “Forest” (https://www.forestapp.cc/en/), which allows you to plant a virtual tree on your phone. You must stay at work and stay focused, not checking for messages or texts, to keep the tree growing. If you go away from the app, your tree will die, horribly and shockingly. You can plant a whole forest of trees showing your focus, and eventually devotion and industry will lead to planting real trees in the areas of the world where they are needed.

I’m afraid I’d end up with a phone full of dead trees. These things rarely go the way I want.

Not long ago, I had a dreadful day, bad enough to be featured in the Rant section of the Seattle Times. It started when I had a disagreement with a client, then I received a warning for speeding in a school zone (I hadn’t realized it was a school zone) and had a fight with a friend. Painful experience has taught me that when I have that many people problems in one day, the problem is me, not others.

I told my friend, Sharalin, and her husband, Roland, about my terrible day.

Roland said, “Why, Dorothy, it sounds to me as if you had a great day. You didn't get a ticket, and you got rid of that client you didn't much like anyway. You had a wonderful day!”

It was just great — sort of like a Jimmy Stewart movie. I went on my way feeling very warm and happy. It really is all how you look at it.

People like to say that age is just a number, and the number doesn’t matter. But I think it had better matter. I must believe that we know more as the years go by, that we have something important to share. I want credit for every last day invested.

Next week, I’ll celebrate my birthday, on the worst possible day. That would be Jan. 2. I have it on the advice of a distinguished expert (me) that this is because the joyous season is over and every penny for gifts has been spent, every last pickled jalapeno has been eaten, and the only celebration anyone feels up to is applying a cool cloth to the forehead. Jan. 2 is the worst possible day for a party. Jan. 2 is my birthday.

But we’re still here. It’s a brand new year, and the world is full of opportunities and kindness, chocolate truffles and mini ice cream drumsticks. That calls for a celebration.

What did I do with my dishpan?

Dorothy Wilhelm is a professional speaker and writer. Follow Dorothy’s blog at itsnevertoolate.com. Contact her at P.O. Box 881, DuPont WA, 98327. Phone 800-548-9264, email Dorothy@itsnevertoolate. com.