816 North Opinion

12 pages of optimism for the new year

Crinkle. Crinkle. The stiff plastic wrapping slipped under my fingers as I tried to find the adhesive end. With a strong yank and an audible vwweeeep, the sweet scent of new book hit my nose.

I held in my hands 12 pages of cool, clean and crisp optimism: the 2016 calendar.

I know that a lot of people successfully keep their plans coordinated via electronic calendars of some sort. But, like a lot of areas in our life, we go old-school with a wall calendar.

After having purchased 24 such calendars for my family, I know what works for us. I know the size that the squares for each day must be (every day, weekends are very full, no combo Saturday Sunday nonsense). We need a classic grid layout and we need, need, need a pocket at the bottom of each page for stashing invitations, directions or…stuff.

And, because I am kitchen vain, it also has to match the décor.

Twenty-four years ago, we didn’t need such a system; we had one bought-for-the-art kitchen calendar where Brian and I wrote events that we would both need to be aware of. The majority of our daily lives were kept in our personal calendars. I had a day timer that held everything: business cards, notes, meetings, to do lists. I was never without the pleather case with a snap to hold it all together calendar. The kitchen one was always pretty, tidy and fairly empty.

As the years progressed and kids’ lives mingled with ours, the wall calendar got messy. Tidy and blank was replaced by 365 packed-to-overflowing squares. We have an appendix calendar of sorts inside a nearby cabinet door where specific activity schedules are taped over sticky residue ghosts of schedules-gone-by.

After I got the blasted adhesive to release and took a good whiff of the new calendar, I did what I do every year at this time: go through the old one, grab a handful of colored Sharpies and make sure that the birthdays of close family and friends are recorded in the new one. As the months go on, the squares will fill-up with ink pen notes, scratch outs, highlighter marks, arrows, comments … but those birthdays stand out as the honored fixed point in time that they are.

As I flipped back through 2015, I did another thing that I do every year: take a shower in the memories that washed over me with entries that make up a story arc of our lives:

My medical issues.

My father’s last illness.

Bekah’s graduation.

Noah’s baseball.

Luke’s football.

Back to school.

The whole year written in small squares on last year’s calendar. Part of me wishes that I had kept ones from years past, but I’m not that level of hoarder.

Like I do every year, I looked back, then looked forward. First I wondered how far into the new year it will be before it’s not new enough for me to be writing “2015”?

The 2016 calendar with big squares in a classic grid, with a pocket at the bottom of each page decorated in bright colored whimsical illustrations that match my kitchen, was blank for a moment. The year was symbolically fresh and clean: a year waiting for birthdays and invitations, for ball games and vacations, for appointments and adventures.

Twelve pages with no scratch outs, no arrows, no scribbles or comments.

No memories.

A fresh slate.

Like the new year feels.

I picked up an aqua Sharpie to write Noah’s January birthday in its square.

Here we go. Let’s make it a good one, 2016.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. She co-hosts a women’s history podcast at www.thehistorychicks.com and has lofty plans for keeping her website, www.susanvollenweider.com filled with new content in 2016.