Dear Readers: Happy New Year! We hope this year is the best ever for each and every one of you. Here's a poem by Robert B. Beattie that expresses some lovely sentiments. We hope you will enjoy it:
A Way to a Happy New Year
To leave the old with a burst of song;
To recall the right and forgive the wrong;
To forget the things that bind you fast
To the vain regrets of the year that's past;
To have the strength to let go your hold
Of the not worthwhile of the days grown old;
To dare go forth with a purpose true,
To the unknown task of the year that's new;
To help your brother along the road,
To do his work and lift his load;
To add your gift to the world's good cheer,
Is to have and to give a Happy New Year.
Dear Annie: I was gambling at casinos and broke all of the time. I'd had enough of giving my money to the slot machines, so a year ago, I took advantage of my state's voluntary exclusion law. You can sign up, and casinos will bar you from gambling.
I went to a casino in another town where my friends would not see me sign up. I also went to the adjacent state and did it again to be doubly certain. Now, if I go to any casino in these two states, or any casino in any state owned by or affiliated with any company in these states, I can be arrested for trespassing. If I should manage to sneak in, any winnings will be confiscated and donated to charity.
I now have $6,000 saved up in the bank and am enjoying life again. I cannot tell you the relief I feel now that I am free. I no longer want to gamble, and I cannot be tempted anymore. Anyone who thinks gambling isn't addictive should watch people playing two or three slot machines at a time — as if you cannot lose it fast enough on one machine.
If a person is not willing to sign up, it means they are not willing to stop. — Found a Way Out
Dear Found a Way: Good for you. Many casinos offer voluntary exclusion forms online and in person, and they also are available through your state gaming commission. Any gambler looking for a New Year's resolution today should consider this option, and, of course, Gamblers Anonymous (gamblersanonymous.org).
Dear Annie: I'd like to respond to "Odd Woman Out." She is dating a divorced Jewish man who still attends holiday services with his ex-wife and daughter.
My husband also has an ex-wife and two children. Our solution? She and I ended up calling each other "wife-in-law." We celebrate holidays together, taking turns going to each other's houses. The kids never had to choose who to be with for birthdays, Chanukah, etc. She and one of their sons were attendants at our wedding.
We went to her wedding when she remarried. I write to her mother and other relatives, and she is friends with mine.
Whenever there are children involved, it is foolish of women to think they are "starting new" with a man. They should think, instead, that they are extending their family. Every effort should be made to incorporate the ex into your life in a positive way. After all, with kids in the picture, she's going to be part of your life anyway. Why not make it a good part?
When I first met my wife-in-law, I asked her to stay for tea. We all ended up going to Friday night services together. That was 16 years ago, and now I can't imagine my life without her. — Wife-in-Law in Omaha, Neb.
Dear Omaha: You certainly sound like a bunch of unusual people, with tremendous generosity of spirit. Thanks for writing.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.