By Shelley Murphy
Without fail, the first week of January, I can count on two things. First, people peppering me with questions about my resolutions for the new year.
Second, walking into Costco and being bombarded with rows of vitamins from Acacia to Zinc and traversing a tidal wave of fitness apparatuses and accessories.
I realized long ago it’s silly to suggest a holiday might magically bring about life changes. Annually, I ignore the advertisements for fad diets and gimmicks guaranteed to “make this year your best yet!”
It’s the same year after year; the top resolutions always include losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier and saving money. Blah, blah, blah.
I understand my opinion may come across as cantankerous, but after partaking in the holiday rituals of cooking, cleaning and clearing the Christmas clutter, I’m not in the mood to participate in another exhausting endeavor.
Instead, I’m skipping reveling in resolutions at the beginning of the month and choosing to celebrate a little-known holiday at the end of the month: Curmudgeons Day on Jan. 29.
The holiday is observed on the birthday of American actor, comedian, and writer William Claude Dukenfield, otherwise known as the curmudgeon W.C. Fields.
W.C. Fields became famous for his cantankerous characters and good-humored grumpiness, including his disdain for dogs and children. He’s also immortalized for his numerous comedic quotes such as, “I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a curmudgeon as “an ill-tempered, disagreeable, and quarrelsome person.”
I’m not a true curmudgeon, and I don’t think anyone who knows me would call me cranky—well, not to my face.
I like to think of curmudgeons as unconventional thinkers who aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers.
Curmudgeons come in all shapes and sizes, they are not defined by physical attributes, and they can be any gender or age.
They also run the gamut; some experience sporadic surly moods and others lead a lifetime of petulance.
There’s a long list of popular television and movie characters who are curmudgeons, including Stanley Hudson from The Office, Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, and Severus Snape of Harry Potter fame.
For more than 30 years, Andy Rooney was the king of curmudgeons and made a career of expressing his disgruntled observations in his 60 Minutes segment “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney.”
Producers from the news show have not contacted me yet, but I’m happy to contribute my cantankerous observations.
Leaf blowers. Thank you, San Clemente City Council, for passing a citywide ban on the gas-powered noise makers, which went into effect on Nov. 4, 2022 (it excludes some city contractors).
Drivers who clean their front windshield with their windshield wiper fluid while driving at a significant speed. I can’t count the times my clean car has been caught in a web of wet, soiled spray. Pull over to the side of the road, please.
Moviegoers who purchase their tickets at the box office and struggle to select seats. It’s a two-hour movie, not a transcontinental flight.
The passengers in the car ahead of me at the well-established drive-thru restaurant who take forever to order from the age-old menu. It is fast food, fast being the operative word.
Glitter. Despite cleaning and vacuuming, it will lie dormant for months or years, and then its insidious sparkle will shine. A greeting card chock full of “surprise” glitter is a surefire passive-aggressive way to celebrate a supposed friend’s birthday.
Combustible gender reveals. Enough said.
This January, skip the silliness of making sweeping seasonal New Year resolutions and instead celebrate the grumpy, grouchy or good old-fashioned naysayers in life.
Sure, curmudgeons are often a bit difficult, but they’re also passionate people willing to say what they think, and often with a witty and funny flair.
Try honoring them on this holiday, and you might find underneath many have a heart of gold—without the glitter.For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to Picket Fence Media since 2006.