When I was a kid, I remember wanting November to be over. Not that there was anything wrong with November – it has Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving – but I wanted to get to December. I couldn’t wait to wake up and go downstairs to the kitchen and turn that calendar page. Truth is that all year I wanted to get to December because that was the month when Santa Claus was coming to town.
A calendar was a significant element in my family as I was growing up. I not only recall the beauty of the monthly images that certainly brightened the room, but it also was a compendium of important dates and times and events. I recall my mother sitting down a few days before January 1st each year and filling in all the family birthdays on the new calendar. In those days many of my loved ones now gone were still with us and, having a rather large family on both sides, this was a time-consuming process. Mom would also add significant dates like weddings, communions, and graduations. Inside the front cover of the calendar she wrote important phone numbers for Dad’s office, the local police precinct, the deli, our school, and family members. Our calendar was not just a marking of dates but a handy reference tool.
Now all these years later November turned to December this week, and my kids didn’t have the opportunity to have the excitement of turning the calendar page because we don’t have one. We don’t have a single calendar in the house. While they have been exposed to the concept of the calendar in school, at home we have been living calendar free for years now.
On December 1st I felt a peculiar urgency. I walked into the kitchen and realized something was missing, and then the memory of turning the calendar to December came to me and I realized what it was – there is no calendar page to turn.
When I have an upcoming event scheduled on a particular date, I immediately check the calendar on my phone to see what day it lands on. I then click my Reminders app and enter the information. Once again my smartphone has taken away something from my past that I used to enjoy doing or using, so I added calendars to the list that includes phone books, flashlights, and calculators.
Then, as fate would have it, I received a “save the date” notice in the mail yesterday. It regarded an insignificant conference that I would never attend anyway, but what caught my attention was the text which in part read “Mark your calendars!”
Who has a calendar anymore? The truth is that I don’t see calendars outside of my home either. It used to be that I would see them everywhere I went – in friends’ homes, in every office, in the diner, in the service station, in the bank, and the barber shop. I know calendars are being sold in stores, but I am wondering who is buying them because I don’t see them hanging anywhere.
After getting that piece of mail, I went upstairs to my office and pulled out the recycle bin from under my desk. I had thrown away three calendars I received recently in the mail without even looking at them. I took the time to open the envelopes and looked at each of them. The images for each month seemed appropriate enough, and some of them were truly beautiful.
Over the past few months I must have thrown away a dozen calendars, all sent from non-profit organizations looking for a contribution. I realized that I am so dependent on my phone that I took for granted the pleasures a hard copy of a calendar can offer, and I resolved to change things immediately.
Since all of these calendars are 16-month for some reason or another, December is included with each, so I promptly hung one in my office and then proceeded to the kitchen where my wife informed me that she didn’t want it hanging there. Obviously, she has embraced the one on her phone with full vigor.
Undaunted by this rejection, I proceeded to hang one in the basement near my workbench and then the last one on the wall in the garage. I returned to my office and stared at the calendar and then began to do some work, happy that I could actually look up and see a physical manifestation of the day of the week and month of the year.
That evening my son came into my office and pointed to the calendar and asked, “Where did that come from?”
I said, “I put it up today. I missed having a calendar. Do you want one for your room?”
“No, no thanks, Dad.”
I must admit I felt a little sad that he and his mother didn’t share my enthusiasm about having a calendar hanging on the wall, but that is fine with me.
For years I have been working in my office and feeling like something was missing, and now I know what it is. I have put several important appointments and events on my calendar, but I must admit I have also entered them in my phone mostly because it is a habit which I will find almost impossible to break.
Now I know it is a bit early for New Year’s resolutions, but I have made my first one in early December. January 2018 will be here soon enough, and it will be the first time in many years when I will be able to turn an actual calendar page to January, and something feels so right about that.