My First New Year’s Resolution

This New Year’s Eve, I didn’t do much celebrating…and actually, I loved it…and actually, it was the most fulfilling New Year’s Eve…ever.  What did I do?  Well, I spent the New Years trying to help a local family in my neighborhood whose house was razed by a fire.  Everything was lost for this family of six—their house, their possessions, their Christmas gifts.

Highland Park Fire Frontal

To make matters worse, the family lives near the ground zero of the Rose Bowl, so every hotel in the area was booked.  Those that weren’t—the prices were jacked up to the hilt for maximal profit.  And so on New Year’s Eve, the family could not find any lodging anywhere within a 20 mile radius of their home that fit into their budget:  they were staring down the barrel of a night in their car.

Rose Bowl

“You always get too involved,” a good friend said.  “You need to set firm boundaries.”  But I was raised religious, and even though I am no longer much of a church-goer, a bit of instinct kicked in.  I found myself doing what people of my childhood do:  collecting warm clothes and donations.  The most New Years Eve thing I did was ruthlessly purge my closet and my storage unit:  it was actually exhilarating to get rid of stuff that you were only holding onto but didn’t actually need and giving it to somebody else.

I even did something that I’ve never done before:  I tried my hand at starting a GoFundMe page.  This itself is a major undertaking for a middle-aged man who grew up playing outside, not inside with computers.  But I did it anyway.  And this meant that up until midnight, I was trying to set up a page on the website—a task that a millennial could do in minutes but which took this old fool up until countdown time.

My entire day was sucked up by the running-around and the digital boondoggle and now at the moment of countdown, I was not at a party with my circle; I had canceled dinner reservations; now, my wife and I were sitting in bed, watching Netflix in our pajamas.  And of course, our house was a mess.


The family itself was six people—three generations.  They were happy that at least their three dogs hadn’t perished in the fire.  But the grandmother has health issues and the youngest is physically disabled—wheel-chair bound—and in need of constant care.  They lost all their medication in the fire and their insurance was questioning the need for replacement.

So, I was a selfish person—selfish in my act of giving.  And as my computer counted down to the New Years, I felt better than I have felt in a long time.  You see:  I would do it all over again.  I would do it in a heartbeat.  And for the first time, I actually made a resolution:  to continue trying to think about others, not my own needs.

Happy New Year!  I hope that you enjoy all the successes that the cornucopia of 2016 spills forth!  I hope you act selfishly—always—if selfishness does an ounce of good for somebody else.  If you want to contribute to the GoFundMe page, please follow this link.

Happy New Year

7 thoughts on “My First New Year’s Resolution

    • Thanks Margot. I did feel a bit overwhelmed becoming the de facto relief organizer for this family but it was a good tired: like the kind you get when you worked out hard in the gym or spent a day working in the garden! Happy Near Year!

    • Thanks, York Blvd. I try to do what I can when I see a need is all. Perhaps one day we’ll meet on the actual York Boulevard. In any case, you or anybody reading this can help the family through the GoFundMe page:

      As little as a cup of coffee at our local coffee shop will actually make a difference with crowdsourcing!

  1. Khanh, my family and I are truly grateful for the extraordinary act of kindness and love you have shown us in this great time of need. We are a very traditional and old fashioned family. We are accustomed to help those around us when needed, so for us to be on the receiving end is hard. I speak for all my family, thank you so much. You have truly been a blessing, and we are honored to have you as a friend from now on.

    • Lidia–I’m honored that your family counts me among their friends. I am doing what many people have done for me in a time of need when my family virtually lost everything. You see, I was a Vietnamese refugee and lost not only my home but also my country, and I washed up in the United States with few material possessions and certainly no sense of direction. Were it not for the many small kindnesses I received and have long forgotten, I would not be in a position to do what I’m doing now: paying it forward. So, don’t think of this as an extraordinary act of kindness. Think of it instead as my repaying a debt to a fellow human being.

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