I’ve always wondered why we feel compelled to make New Year’s resolutions on the first of each new year. Most of the time we know when we make them that we’re not going to keep them, but we think something terrible will happen if we don’t at least make an effort.

It seems logical to me that as we take a look back at the past and what prompted us to make some of our resolutions for the future, we are at least attempting to be a better person and make obvious changes that we know will be beneficial to us and maybe to others.

Most of us would like to become more fit, whether it’s losing weight or — it’s hard to believe, but — maybe a few people would even like to add a few pounds. I’ve never had that inclination. Those who have a few pounds hanging around their middle or worse yet, trailing behind, know that exercise would make them feel better. This might be walking, swimming, doing calisthenics or weight lifting exercises. Anything that burns a few calories is a big help. There are places to help or you can do it on your own.

Another resolve that has real merit is spending more time with family and friends. According to an internet list of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions, several polls show that more than 50 percent of Americans list appreciating loved ones and spending more time with family and friends as their top resolution.

With more and more adults and children in America considered overweight or obese, a logical resolution would be to take off some of those pounds and shape up and encourage others to do the same.

Take a look around at the mall, in the grocery store or in a restaurant. I’ve always had to fight my weight and don’t want to be the “pot calling the kettle black” so to speak, but I’ve never seen so many really obese adults and children as in recent years. It makes me want to take a knife and fork away from some people and go shopping with them for larger sized clothes. My heart goes out to them because I can just imagine their feelings as they tote all that fat around.

Many smokers have given up the habit, but there are many more that need to consider what it is doing to them and those around them and toss their cigarettes into the trash — forever. We all know that it’s not healthy, can cause cancer and other disease and turn our lungs, the smoker’s and those who breathe the smoke, into chopped liver. With all that tax on cigarettes the price beyond reason, it’s a perfect time to get on the no-smoking wagon.

While New Year’s Eve is a time to drink and party for many people, others stay at home and stay cold sober because probably more than any other time of the year there are more drinkers on the highway. If giving up drinking is on your list of resolutions, this is a good time. There is a world of help and support available for you and there are a lot of law enforcement officers out there whose tickets and rides to jail can really put a dent in the pocketbook and have devastating effects. For your sake and the sake of other drivers on the road, please don’t drink and drive. I know that New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2018 will soon be over, but there will be lots of other days during the year to follow my suggestions.

If debt has been a source of stress during the last year, join millions of Americans who have resolved to spend the year getting a handle on their finances. It might be tough for a while, but think how great it will be in the long run.

I have a friend who is a “get organized” expert and I wouldn’t dare let her come into my little office at home. All this “stuff” is valuable and I’m the first to admit that I’m a pack rat where history is concerned. But getting rid of my “stuff” is one of the hardest things I need to do. I have vowed to do at least a little of that this year though. I’ve made this resolution annually for several years now and the filing stack just seems to get higher. I’m planning to allow an hour every day to work on this pile and hopefully by the time 2019 arrives I can look around and give a sigh of relief. I made this same resolution last year and look at me still sitting here with all this “stuff” on shelves around me.

A lot of people would love to learn something new this year. This may be by changing careers, learning a new language or just how to repair a computer or make a program work. There are a lot of book, classes and even internet instructions to read to help expand a level of comfort and learn something new. Grayson College also can help with lots of changes.

Volunteering is another good choice for a New Year’s resolution. There are so many places that could not operate without the help of volunteers. Whether you want to mentor a child, build a house, help out at one of the shelters, including the dog shelter, or any other of the nonprofit volunteer organizations, there’s a place just waiting for help.

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It first was observed in Babylon about 4,000 years ago. The Babylonian new year lasted for 11 days, according to my internet source. Each day had its own mode of celebration and modern New Year’s Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Tournament of Roses Parade dates back to 1886 when members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers to celebrate the ripening of the orange crop in California. The parade continues today.

The Rose Bowl football game was first played as part of the Tournament of Roses in 1902, then was replaced by Roman chariot races the following year. In 1916, the game returned as the sports centerpiece of the festival and since then many other bowl games have been added across the country. In fact there seems to be more bowl games this year than ever before and some have really strange names.

Father time and the New Year’s baby have become synonymous with New Year’s Day as much as the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.

Many parts of the United States, including those in North Texas welcome the new year by eating black-eyed peas accompanied by hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas have been considered good luck in many cultures and the hog is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Some think that cabbage also brings good luck when it is eaten on New Year’s Day. In some places rice also is a lucky food. I hope you ate some of at least one of the above on Saturday.

Whatever custom you observe on this beginning of a brand-new 2018, our wish for the world is that peace be accomplished this year. Let us all pray that our servicemen and women and first responders will be safe and that 2018 will be a year that will see at least a semblance of peace in the world.

Have a blessed New Year.

Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at donnahunt554@gmail.com. She has been a longtime contributor to the Herald Democrat with her bi-weekly column, which appears in the Wednesday and Sunday editions. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.