Mulhall column: Jelly of the month | PostIndependent.com

Mulhall column: Jelly of the month

It’s that time of year again. You know, winter solstice, the season of perpetual hope, out with the old, in with the new… All that sort of thing.

Yes, next Saturday the days will start getting longer, and before you know it, whether you mark spring renewal by March madness, Mothers’ Day caddis, or something else altogether, we’ll soon find ourselves well into another journey around the sun, or something like that.

But while we’re all here in December, one seasonal observation that comes with age, once you get past the struggle to rekindle that old Yuletide magic, is that while in life there are no do-overs, it’s never too late for improvement.

When memories outnumber future prospects, do-overs, to the extent they’re even possible, seem a whole lot less useful than just getting a few things right.

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Perhaps it’s always been this way. Age seats you just a little closer to life’s elephant in the room each Holiday season. Some figure out that get-it-right-the-first-time axiom early. If like me you’re a C student about such things, it all remains a work in progress.

This reality tends to sneak up on you, too. When you’re young, there are all kinds of chances to get it right, however you define that. Next thing you know, maybe you’re sitting with your family, scrolling through the movie listings for this season’s Cousin Eddie fix, when you realize Christmas Vacation’s thirty freaking years old.

Holy hashtag boomer batman.

Of course, there’s more to this time of the year than hearing Chevy Chase utter that classic one-liner, “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”

Neither is Christmas some kind of obligation to cure cancer, though that’d sure be nice.

For me, Christmas is something a whole lot closer to the former than the latter, and not just because I’m a John Hughes fan. Rather, I find simple things are just easier to work out, and I’m pretty sure it’s that way for everybody.

That’s no criticism, either. To the contrary, what one man dismisses is another guy’s high water mark — a bit like Clark Griswold and Cousin Eddie.

No matter who you are, a change for the better, no matter how slight, can lead to good things, as hard as that is to see sometimes.

Don’t know where to start?

Pick something obvious, something you know you shouldn’t do but just haven’t got around to yet. Maybe quit draining your RV’s black water into the storm sewer. Then watch what happens.

It’s doubtful your neighbor will suddenly start talking to you, but maybe in time he’ll wave cautiously when he drives by.

With this subtle shift under your belt, maybe you’ll see that change isn’t really all that difficult. No big deal. That’s the perfect time to try something a bit more ambitious, like maybe changing your pants after your wife runs the microwave.

This not only makes life rosier on the home front, it makes a huge difference at work, too.

Conference calls will drop off precipitously, almost in direct proportion to meeting requests, so you’ll actually get to see the people you work with.

Not all developments will come with advantages, however. For example, grocery store aisles won’t mysteriously clear as you roll your cart toward the frozen foods, so you’ll need to allocate more shopping time.

As you stick with it, though, one day you’ll realize that what began as a small personal change has gradually snowballed into something better, and while you may not be quite ready to write a self-help book, there’s nothing wrong with starting an outline.

A willingness to help others is important, too.

No, in life you don’t get any do-overs, but you can always improve yourself.

Like the jelly of the month, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com


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