‘Celia Says Ciao’ | Resolutions are dead, long live bucket lists

I no longer make New Year’s resolutions as I am hopeless at sticking to them. Basically all my good intentions are doomed to almost certain failure within a week, and that is not the way I like to start the year.

My annual resolutions are dusted down and regurgitated year after year with a total lack of wit and inventiveness. So this year, I have taken a different approach: I have made a ‘bucket list’. Traditionally a list of things to do before you die, I have tweaked this concept to create a list of things to do before the end of 2012.

This is a far more positive way to address one’s goals for the year. Rather than focusing on our weaknesses and failings, a bucket list presents us with an opportunity to assess our lives and address the things we want to do with it.

It makes us approach life with a sense of urgency. Items on a bucket list tend to err on the side of happy, fun-filled, and momentous activities to accomplish. You will rarely see party-pooping pledges to ban and limit one’s daily intake, or promises to engage in endeavours that you have no enthusiasm for.

It’s a strange paradox. When you think you have all the time in the world to do things, you become complacent. Then suddenly, when you realise that you only have a finite period of time available, your mind jumps to all the things that you’ve never got round to doing.

And that’s where I presently find myself. After six years in Copenhagen, we are heading back to Shanghai. It was unexpected, as these things often are, and as soon as the Christmas and New Year festivities were over, we were thrown into a maelstrom of preparation and packing, with little time left over for much else.

So given my new-found fetish for bucket lists, I decided to make a ‘things to do before I leave Denmark’ list. To my horror, I discovered some significant omissions.

I am a self-proclaimed foodie. This statement sits proudly in the interests section of my resume so it pains me in no small measure that I have not yet experienced the delights of the world’s best restaurant for two years running, Noma. I’m afraid I’ve missed the boat on this one – the earliest booking available is for May 2012, by which time we will be long gone.

Six years ago, the names Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wegner, Jørn Utzon, Poul Henningsen, Verner Panton et al would have elicited nothing more than a blank stare. Now, I can namecheck iconic chairs – there’s the Egg, the Swan, the Ant, the Panton … but my transformation from design ignoramus to aficionado is incomplete as I have never entered the hallowed grounds of the Danish Design Centre.

Louisiana is also on my list, although in my defence, I did once reach as far as the ticket counter but then had to make a hasty exit as my hungover companion vomited into her handbag.

Nor have I waded in the mud at the Roskilde Festival. Once a bona fide stomping, pogo-ing indie kid and rave regular, my recurring no-shows are a woeful admission that I have now succumbed to the stereotype befitting my stage in life.

It has upset my mother, a librarian, that I have not made a pilgrimage to the Black Diamond – that bibliographical mecca. In deference to her, this has been politely added to my bucket list.

And while we are on the subject of maternal guilt, I have never taken the boys to the plastic play palace that is Legoland. However, given that my kids are only of Duplo-constructing age, I reserve the right to save this one for when they’re older.

My worst transgression, though, nearly had me banished to dinner party exile in London after I admitted that I had not seen Danish crime drama ‘The Killing’ (Forbrydelsen). I have now ordered the DVD box set to watch when I’m feeling homesick.

Now by comparison, if I had made a list of resolutions, it might have read a little bit like this: improve my Danish; get a bike and start cycling; bake my own bread; resist the special offers in the supermarket advertising catalogue; and of course, the dreaded (and never completed) January detox – substituting wine for vitamin shakes, the consumption of several lettuce leaves a day in lieu of real food and actually going to the gym that I joined two years ago in a moment of weakness.

So as I move onwards and upwards to our next destination, I will try and approach it through ‘bucket list’ eyes. This time around, I will soak up as many experiences as I can possibly fit in and embrace my new home country with vigour and fervour. And the minute I land, I will be sure to make dinner reservations for all the hotly-tipped restaurants in town, just in case they one day gain status as the world’s best.

Due to her move to Shanghai, this will be Celia Thaysen’s last opinion column