I hear their low cackles, shiver from their bone-chilling drafts, and see their emanations floating through my rooms like cheese cloth caught in a crosscurrent. I know who they are--the ghosts of all my unkept New Year's Resolutions coming back to rattle their chains at me on this new holiday season.

I see the Ghost of Failed Diets who gleefully watches from the corner as I don't even eat a sliver of the yummy chocolate layer cake, guilting all my guests from taking seconds. Then after they leave, the ghost catches me, just as he knew he would, picking at the leftover cake-pick, pick, pick, until only the ghost of the chocolate circle is all that is left on the large plate. He even snickers when he sees me chop the potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions for a healthy lentil soup. He knows just what's coming, how I'll eat the whole pot over the course of the day, turning a low fat meal into a high calorie binge.

How he howls when my husband gets home and sniffs the air, excitedly lifting the lid of the pot to find a scrim of soup, not even enough to fill a teaspoon! Last year when I managed to keep my low carb diet for a whole month, the Ghost of Failed Diets patiently waited in the wings, holding out my gelatinous coat made of every pound I had lost, knowing that before long I would be putting my arms into it, jamming my hands into its stuffed hip pockets.

The Ghost of Disorganization chortled the January I hired a professional organizer to help me turn over a new leaf and know just where I put it. He knew, come March, he'd once again see the piles of papers and teetering books on my computer table, the uncapped pens drying out on the kitchen counter, the welter of mismatched shoes on the floor of my closet, the organized folder of receipts for items I have never used because I didn't know where there were. He enjoyed reading the greeting cards I bought, but forgot to send. He even went to the dentist with me when I had to have a new mold made for the bite plate I lost despite promising myself to carefully tuck it back into its plastic case in the morning. And even as I was paying the three hundred dollars for the new one, the ghost knew that before long, he'd once again hear me grinding my bite plate-less teeth in my sleep.

Even on New Year's Eve, when my resolutions are as fresh as a first snowflake, The Ghost of Gossip finds me out. I couldn't resist telling my friend at the last New Year's Eve Party that while I was standing on a long line at Tasti-D-Lite, I saw the woman over there in the pricey red Dolce & Gabbana outfit demand seven free samples of yogurt before deciding on one, then telling the befuddled clerk, "My husband has my wallet," and leaving without coming back.

This year, my resolution is to bore the hell out of the ghosts by just enjoying my life, having gratitude for each day, regardless of my bungles and gaffs. When I overeat, I vow not to terrify myself worrying about my cholesterol or whether or not I'll fit into my clothes. When I misplace something, instead of singing my dismal dirge, "You've gone and done it again," I'm going to say, "So what?" When I find out a juicy piece of gossip, I'll chew on it, savor it. That will probably be my "boo" to the ghosts. I can already hear their sheets flapping as they find a new haunt.

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is a professional psychic whose novel, Miriam the Medium, was nomiinated for the Harold U. Ribelow award. She's published essays in The New York Times, Newseek, and many anthologies, and teaches writing at UCLA Extension.


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