2017. 2017. 2017. If 2017 is anything like the last, oh, 30 years, it’s going to take me a few weeks to get used to writing 17 instead of 16. While totally involuntary, it’s just part of my annual tradition of saying goodbye to one year and hello to the next.
As part of her intentional, annual year-end wrap-up traditions, when we put away Christmas decorations my daughter writes herself a letter.
It’s a note of congratulations for having made it through the year, some reflective commentary to remind herself what she has been through, and some predictions and hopes for the next. She tucks it into her stocking with a couple pieces of candy and doesn’t think about it until she reads it the following December.
It’s a lovely tradition, and I admire her for developing it. I would like to say my recap method is just as planned, but, like a lot of my traditions, I fell into it by accident.
The kitchen wall calendar.
There are new-school, higher tech methods of family scheduling that work for a lot of people but the wall calendar is ours. It’s a basic Not Broke, Don’t Fix situation.
What also works over here is a particular style of calendar: 12 pages, each with an envelope on the bottom to stuff invitations, permission slips, reminders and forms that need to be taken places during a specific month.
The calendar must have a Sunday to Saturday graphic; each day’s writing space identical in size. I tend to pick one that matches my kitchen: colorful and floral. 2017’s label proudly titled this year’s watercolor style “Bold Blossoms.”
When I took the crinkle wrap off the 2017 Bold Blossoms calendar, a whiff of ink and paper — a smell I call School Book Fair — hit me. Scent and emotion are closely tied and with just a sniff I felt like the year in my hands was fresh and full of excited hope and promise.
It was also familiar. I do this every year. And just like every year I took the old calendar down and lay it next to the new one. The one that had hung in the kitchen all year looked worn, used and was in sharp visual contrast to the crisp 2017.
Just like every year, I pulled out a handful of notes we had tucked into the December pocket for things 2017 and began to break in the year. Dentist and doctor appointments, upcoming jury duty, the Sunday’s my middle-schooler will acolyte at church and the basketball games he has coming in the next three months.
The day my older son will graduate high school.
The day he can move into his college dorm.
And then, just like every year, I started at January and wrote birthdays into the calendar. Month by month: scan 2016 for birthday, write onto 2017.
But what I was also doing was reliving the year, one more time.
When Luke got his wisdom teeth out last January.
Annual Trivia Night in February.
When the ice maker then the fridge it was attached to died in March.
Prom in April.
Luke’s new, fancy knee brace for his future, old football injury in May.
A June full of baseball games for Noah.
A family vacation in July.
One kid starting middle school, one kid starting his senior year in August.
A note, “The best week ever for Noah” in September and the events of those seven days.
Luke’s third whack at the ACT in October.
Our 25th wedding anniversary in November.
A week full of kid doctor appointments in December.
And little notes and reminders tucked into 366 calendar squares days of 2016 that made up the life of my family.
Happy, sad, ordinary and special.
Just like very year.
Good-bye 2016, hello 2017.