2011-01-06 / Editorial

A little more maintenance won’t hurt

I Was Thinking By Cheryl Holladay

Making New Years resolutions is a common way to start the year. Starting fresh and putting the past behind you feels like the right thing to do.

Some of the more common resolutions are to lose weight, stop smoking and get out of debt. Others include recycle/reduce/ reuse more and keeping in touch with friends and family more often.

While these are laudable goals, there is something that can be done throughout the year that would not require making a resolution.

In my experience and from witnessing the actions of others, it is easier to perform maintenance in one’s life rather than force change with one big corner-turning goal.

Maintenance is overlooked in our disposable society. Don’t like your phone – get a new one. Unhappy with your physical appearance – there’s always liposuction or Botox.

The wealth of our society (yes, even during the recession) has made it easier to pitch the old and buy new.

It wasn’t always this way.

A couple of generations ago, hard work and saving were requirements because there was little other choice. Things broken around the house were repaired, not replaced. If cars, bikes or household items did break down, an effort to fix them was made before entertaining the idea of buying new.

In Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation,” he highlights many men and women of the World War II generation who, after serving their country, possessed an unparalleled work ethic.

One man Brokaw interviewed, Charles Briscoe, had grown up on farms before going to work for Stearman Aircraft Division to make B-29’s.

In the book Brokaw wrote: “The kids nowadays,” [Briscoe, who was used to fixing things on the farm] says, “their parents buy them fancy cars and depend on someone else to keep them running. When all my grandchildren wanted cars I bought five hail-damaged cars...for about three thousand dollars each instead of ten thousand or fifteen thousand dollars. I welded a finishing nail in each of the dents, bent it over, ground it smooth and filled it in with body putty. By the time we finished, the cars looked brand-new. I had my grandchildren help me so they’d learn that if you want something badly there’s a way to get it.”

Alison Ely Campbell, who worked in a California shipyard in charge of welding projects during the war, told Brokaw, “During the war...we learned to deal with deprivations – rationing, being away from our husbands and families. I look at my daughter’s generation and their big influence was television – and that’s created a tremendous demand for material goods. My brother and I used to play and build things, but my grandchildren don’t build things, they only buy them!”

Several things in life can benefit from regular maintenance and stave off the need to replace. Getting regular oil changes will likely stave off a major engine problem. Keeping fit throughout the year relieves one of the necessity of making a major lose-weight resolution. Keeping an eye on the finances every month, not just in January when the Christmas bills come due, can go a long way toward financial fitness.

It wouldn’t hurt to do a little more maintenance in 2011. On the furnace, the yard, even relationships.

Over the holidays, I noticed that the only time I correspond with some far-away family members and friends is when we exchange Christmas cards. It is certainly worth it to maintain the car, the house, the finances, etc., but working hard to keep connections with people you care about is the best maintenance project I can think of. Relationships are irreplaceable.

Next January I’ll look back at my resolution to keep in touch with far-away friends and family throughout the year to see how I’ve done...and I’ll recommend to them reading Tom Brokaw’s book.

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