My First Gift of the Holiday Season. It’s a Calendar.

2013 NYRB Calendar

I received my annual subscriber gift from The New York Review of Books today.  The envelope was plain, white, and had no cute warnings not to open until December 25 so I opened it.  I knew what was in it anyway.  A calendar!

Golly…I haven’t been so excited about a calendar in a long time.  I forgot how fun a calendar can be.  For me the best part might have been deciding where to hang my new calendar.  When you start looking, you realize that the decision is both fun and challenging.

I walked through room after room with a hammer in one hand, calendar in the other, and a nail ready in my lips.  More than once I was ready to drive the nail when I got that feeling that things were not quite right.  As it turns out, waiting was the right decision.  As you can see, I found the perfect spot for my calendar.  All that’s left to do now is wait for 2013!

Not surprisingly, I daydreamed about calendars a lot today.  I recall as a young boy — it must have been kindergarten or first grade, we were at Wilson Elementary — my class made Christmas presents for our parents.  I decided to make a calendar for my parents.  I was very proud of my decision because it felt very grown up, practical, and required a lot of measuring and straight lines.

When I was finished I presented my work proudly to my teacher — either Miss Woog or Mrs. Gee, I can’t remember if it was kindergarten or first grade — and after I was properly complimented for my good work I was also told I wasn’t finished.  I looked at my calendar, looked at my teacher, looked at my calendar…what could she mean?

Miss Woog or Mrs. Gee told me I forgot to put the dates on the calendar.  Forgot?  I didn’t forget.  My calendar was a homemade calendar.  There was no need for numbers and dates, that’s what you put on the calendar as the days passed by, I thought.  Store-bought calendars confused me, like using a dictionary to look up spelling.  If you don’t know the date, how do you find it on the calendar?

This amused my teacher, but I thought of it this way:  If a calendar is going to be useful, you already know the day and date and dutifully update your calendar each day to ensure you stay on schedule.  I mean, what the sense in waking up on Christmas Day, going to the calendar, and confirming what you already know.  If  it is Christmas, it is December 25.  Right?

Therefore it made much more sense that you would wake up on Christmas knowing that it was both Wednesday and December 25 and mark it on the calendar.  There and done and your calendar is up to date, serving the useful purpose of marking your progress through the month.

Planning and appointments mattered very little to a five- or six-year-old.  Days came and went and a few of them were worth looking forward to, that was about it.  So — with a bit of a pout, I’m sure — I went back to the table and proceeded to “finish” my calendar with my horrible handwriting.  I think my parents would have liked the calendar as I had it first.  Plus, they could use it year after year.   Think of the potential for tradition!

“What day is it?”  “I don’t know, it’s December.”

I think I’ll go look at my calendar one more time before going to bed.  Is today really December 13?

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