Growing up, my family’s annual holiday tradition was visiting my grandparents at their South Florida beachfront condo. It was a perfect setting. Our days were spent at the pool and on the beach. My sisters and I still refer to the Beach Point as our happy place mainly because of the time we spent with our grandparents.

New Year’s Eve was always special. We played games, watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve and of course, gathered around the dinner table and shared our New Year’s Resolutions. There were always a few of my relatives who resolved to lose weight, go to the gym, stop eating cookies — the typical resolutions that people keep for two weeks and then revert to their old habits.

And then there was my grandfather. Saul Smith. My Zaida.

Zaida was a gem. He was kind, generous, funny and optimistic. Most importantly, he personified humility.

Two stories that embody Zaida:

  1. He never spent a dime on himself in his entire life. He was 100% devoted to giving and caring for his loved ones. Nothing gave Zaida more joy than seeing other people smile.
  2. When he retired, he began volunteering at the Montreal General Hospital. His job: guiding incoming visitors to the correct departments. Patients would always remark about how funny and helpful he was. That was Zaida — always eager to make someone smile.

So it should come as no surprise that a typical Saul Smith New Year’s Resolution was ‘to be a better and more giving person in the coming year.’ This coming from a man who had already set the bar so high.

When I look back at the bizarre year that was 2020, I can’t help but think of Zaida when trying to determine what I can change about myself in 2021. My goal for this year is to be more grateful and optimistic, while not making excuses for why I can’t.

I’d like you to think about the kind of person you’d like to be in 2021. What are two or three words that come to mind? What efforts will you make to embody those characteristics?

Happy New Year and all the best!

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