Cheese for Christmas; values for New Year's.

This Christmas, I asked my kids to just show up and we'd call it good. That's all I wanted from them in terms of gifts: To just sit around together, reminisce, dream and be reminded how out of touch I am with today's youth-driven culture. (I'm a cool dad; this wasn't supposed to ever happen.)

They weren't having that, though — wrapped gifts must be under the tree with my name on them, they declared, even though they've finally admitted that, yes, I apparently have no need or desire for material things I can't drive, float in or spend. I have collected enough socks to outfit the California National Guard.

Forced to provide gift-hints, however, I eventually confessed that I would not be unhappy unwrapping food and drink.

Well, the kids came through, almost obscenely so. I'm stocked for the next six months, and that's just in the cheese department.

Which brings me to Dec. 26, which is basically the first day of the new year. The calendar has no remaining, concrete obligations for most of us other than finalizing plans to celebrate (or hunker down for) the evening of Dec. 31. Then it's 2019. So, by the day after Christmas, 2018 has essentially come to an end.

And for me, like many, the dawning of the new year renews that familiar determination associated with new beginnings. A better self than the one who pigged out at Bill Lee's last week and couldn't tie his shoes the next day. A better self with abdominal muscles: They're still somewhere in there, it's rumored.

A six-month supply of cheese, appreciated though it might be, is not going to help in that regard.

Yes, even though I keep reading it's a silly pursuit, even though nutritionists, psychologists and assorted other "ists" remind us every December that New Year's resolutions are promises usually broken within days, if not hours, I always allow them to occupy my imagination around this time.

So, here, I'll say it: I need to lose 15 pounds. My pants don't fit like they did 12 months ago and I refuse to buy fat pants. Maybe I need to use that gym membership I've been paying for.

But that aspiration for 2019 is just typical, end-of-year stuff. It's an aspiration that's only about my physical being. A healthy body contributes to a healthy mind and spirit, no question, but I need to be making resolutions that are entirely inner cranial, too.

Resolutions like this:

I will differentiate between values and objectives. Objectives are good, essential even, but they can and should change continuously. Either we check off that particular box and move on down the list, or the goal morphs into something more relevant or better defined.

Values don't change. Our focus might ebb, but values can't be abandoned. If we are honest about it, we'll need to periodically remind ourselves of those values, but they're constants.

Contribute. Leave it better than you found it. Don't lie. Don't be vain. Listen. Appreciate. Strive.

Those are some of mine.

Striving is an important one, because it crosses over into the realm of objective. And, sure, I've got objectives that are a little more complicated than reaching a particular belt notch.

Number one: Write that screenplay. This is the golden age of television, what with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and Showtime cranking out more content than any one person can, or should, ever hope to consume. Is there room on that train for me? Probably not, but I'll regret not having tried.

Two: Write that next book. It's been fun playing things out in my mind all these years, but I keep flipping through the calendar and nothing gets done. If living without regret is the ultimate goal, procrastination is the ultimate goal killer.

Thank you for coming this far with me as I talk to myself. Do you need to talk to yourself, too? Go ahead; don't mind me.

That's good for the time being, I think. Now: Brie or Gruyere?

Contact The Californian’s Robert Price at 661-395-7399, or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. His column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; the views expressed are his own.

(2) comments


Today both of the little boys who were the subjects in the story are retired from careers in the USAF. Today the older one has two grown daughters and his second wife who is the love of his life. He also looks after his mother who now lives a few miles away.

Rather than be an empty nester he adopted a teenage boy who needs the stability of a good home.

Now with a BA he's applying for work with a civilian firm working on contract with the Air Force doing things similar to what he did as a service member. He didn't make clear what the job will be but he says it requires a business suit. He sent me the following note:

My dear Uncle Stephen,

That was trip down memory lane! As a matter of fact, I remember that fondly! I'll have you know, I continued that little bit of fun with my own girls. They must have been around eight years old or so when Katie and Becca were old enough to gleefully appreciate me getting "the snub" from Santa. I got coal and sawdust thereafter until the Santa magic had been revealed.

I tell that original story at every opportunity about my uncles getting the naughty list treatment.

Much happiness.

Love Kenny

Jerry Todd

Three weeks in the hospital, 2 units of blood down the drain and 25 lbs lost left me in pretty good shape after all (Good attitude, faith, cute nurses and housekeeping staff), oh yeah, good medicine.). Did you steal that "abs are down there somewhere" line from me? I found mine!

It's been more than cheese, but chocolate, toffee, ice cream and some great eggnog from my author-neighbor Barbara Krueger ( ). only 3 lbs up so far with my body screaming ENOUGH!

I will spend the rest of 2018 and on as an avid supporter of our great President, confident in my values, but thoroughly confused about those fine ones of our Editorial Page Editor who has never seen a mockery letter from a leftie he could pass up. My friends and neighbors keep asking, why?

As for values, I hope we can all adhere to George Washington's prayer for this nation. In part: "...that he (God) would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion (a paraphrase of Micah 6:8), and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. Amen.”

Happy New Year Robert, arbitrator of all things ink-worthy.

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