New Year, New Calendar

Remember how, in old movies, the passage of time was shown by calendar pages being torn off by the wind and blown away? The older I get, the more that image rings true with me. Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.

One of my favorite rituals at the beginning of each new year is to replace the old blotter calendar on my desk with a new one. But before I tear the cellophane off my pristine treasure and place it lovingly in the middle of my work surface, I acknowledge that it’s time to dust. Really dust, which hasn’t, in all honesty, been done since January 1 of last year. I’m talking about taking every single item off the desk, pulling the can of Pledge and a clean rag out from under the kitchen sink and attacking the dust and grime with gusto.

The cardboard backing from last year’s calendar goes in the recycle bin. Pens are placed neatly in the coffee mug with three Labrador Retrievers—one black, one yellow, one chocolate—pictured on it. Pencils are stored in a coffee mug acquired sometime before 2017, which bears the portrait of all U.S. Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama. To making dusting easier, the mugs are moved to a nearby shelf. As are the Scotch tape dispenser, a box of Kleenex, a salt lamp that I never turn on but that is—according to the person who gave it to me as a gift– supposed to make me feel better in some way I don’t quite understand, a goose-neck desk lamp, a pair of reading glasses, a small glass bowl filled with atomic fireballs, a metal box that holds alphabetized 3×5 index cards with a snail mail address on each one, a wire stand that resembles a paper clip in which I place my to-be-paid bills and a really interesting woven fabric coaster called a “mug rug” that I bought at a craft fair many years ago.

Once all that stuff is out of the way, dusting’s a snap.

Now about the new calendar. It’s a month-at-a-glance style, with 2-inch by 2-inch squares for each day and plenty of extra room on the edges to jot down whatever needs to be jotted down. Back in pre-Covid days, I would begin the new year by filling in my brand-new calendar with recurring meetings, classes and other obligations for the next twelve months. Then I would note every birthday I needed to acknowledge with a card. Record doctor and dentist appointments. Place a peel-off heart-shaped sticker on the first day of each month so I’d remember to give my dog a heartworm pill.

But what was I to do with this brand-new, unblemished, we’re-still-in-a-pandemic 2021calendar?

Kamala needs heartworm pills, so on went those stickers. I also noted birthdays, which will need to be acknowledged with texts or phone calls as long as I’m too Covid-cautious to shop for cards. Doctor appointments? Maybe I’ll go, maybe I’ll postpone. Why risk getting sick to find out if I’m healthy? In terms of meetings, some—most notably Sunday School and two book clubs I belong to—are meeting via zoom, for which I’m grateful. Others are cancelled until “normalcy” returns. Trips to see my kids and grandkids? Sadly, it’s too soon to plan for those.

Old movies frequently show people in prison or on the battlefront or even at a job they hate marking off each passing day with a big black X on a calendar. With all that’s in me, I don’t want to do that this year or ever. I resolve to enjoy each day and make each day matter, pandemic or not. Because I know the wind is blowing the pages off my calendar way too fast.

(January 9, 2021)