It’s Calendar Time

It’s the beginning of 2019 and you know what that means — new calendars and planners. Choosing which calendars to use is an annual dilemma that never gets easier. Due to smartphones and iEverything, many people don’t buy calendars, day planners, or diaries. I may be old-fashioned, but I like starting the new year by unwrapping a new calendar, posting important events in a new datebook, and going to the next row in my five-year diary.

In 1970, I started writing in my first five-year diary. I have written in one every day since then. Even though I don’t need a new one until 2020, I found a beautiful one this year that I had to have, as some years it is hard to find a five-year diary.

When I was little, my father got a free calendar from a local Pittsburgh bank every year. I don’t remember how old I was when I realized that people could actually buy calendars, but I fell in love with the choices. But calendars aren’t cheap. Usually, I buy five calendars: one each for my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room, and my work cubicle. I also get two day planners: a small one for my purse and a larger one for my desk at home. Since I donate to several animal causes, I also got a free feral cat calendar last year. I took it to work and put it next to my Pittsburgh calendar. Now, you might think I wouldn’t need two calendars at my desk — but I love looking at photos of the closest city to my hometown while I sit in my tiny cube. So I went to to get my hometown calendar. Last December, I spent almost $40 at that website.

Like five-year diaries, daily planners become harder to find every year. Even though I keep a weekly planner in my purse, I like to have a daily planner on my desk. For years, my Anglophile heart wouldn’t accept anything less than a Filofax. Eventually I couldn’t find the refills in my local store and gave it up — until the end of 2017, when I made a trip to my favorite office supply store in San Francisco and picked up my Filofax refills. Soon, I have to decide if I want to go to San Francisco or order 2019 refills directly from Filofax.

When I was staying in Berkeley in December 2012, I found a daily planner at Moe’s Books. It was a brown 7” by 4 ½” Paperblanks Day Planner. For the next few years, I got daily and weekly planners from Paperblanks, even though the larger ones cost about $19. The original one from Berkeley was found at an after-Christmas half-off sale. One year, when I waited too late and couldn’t find a planner in the stores that had a page for each day, I ordered one online from Moleskine. Until I decided to go back to Filofax, I alternated between Moleskine and Paperblanks. Last week, I went to a local beauty supply shop that also carried gifts, journals, and planners. I got my 2019 Paperblanks weekly planner for 10 percent off of the $16.95 price. When the store opened 20 years ago, the owner of the then-tiny shop gave all of his new customers a “VIP Card.” The store has expanded several times since then, but they still honor the card possessed by the original customers.

Now all I have left to buy are the calendars. I found a mini-calendar of black kittens that I will put in my bedroom, but I haven’t decided which black cat calendar to get for my living room. I used to get the Brown Trout “Black Cat” calendar, which once featured my friend Kathy’s black cat Zorro. That year, Kathy gave me a free one, freebies being the perk of being the mother of the calendar’s cover cat. Zorro is now in the Great Cat House in the Sky and there is a competitor to Brown Trout. Willow Creek Press started publishing the “Just Black Cats” calendar and I found that I liked their photos better. When my best friend in Pittsburgh asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told her to send me a Pittsburgh calendar. That will take care of my office cubicle. Only two calendars left.

For the last few years, I had a Rush calendar in my bathroom. When I looked on, the only Rush calendar available was one that highlighted the “Grace Under Pressure” album. Since that isn’t my favorite Rush era, I decided to pass. In the kitchen, I usually have a travel calendar over my microwave. Last week, a new charity that wants my donation sent me a calendar of beautiful scenery from around the world. Maybe I’ll put that one in the kitchen and save $14.99. Maybe I’ll even send them some money next year. The local calendar store had two copies of the Black Cat calendar, but I decided to wait until after 2019 started to purchase one, hoping that one will be left when the 50 percent off sale starts.

Last week, my best friend asked me to get her a 2019 calendar. I decided that it would be fun to create a personalized calendar for her. I went to my local Office Depot, which had a large sign advertising the personalized greeting cards and calendars. But when I asked the salesperson in the print services area about it, she didn’t know where the template was on her computer. She advised me to go to the website. I decided to go further down the road to Target to see if I could make a calendar there. Even though calendars were a selection on their photo machine, a salesperson told me that they didn’t have the paper needed to make calendars. I decided to make one at home. It took two computers, a CD, a flash drive, and forty-five minutes to create a calendar online. Even with the holiday discount, the calendar plus shipping cost $23.18. This personalized calendar business was more expensive than Filofax refills.

I’ll probably spend another $30 or more getting Filofax inserts or a new daily planner and one or two more calendars — and I’m glad that I got that 2020 five-year diary early. But part of me will always miss those free, huge bank calendars. Life was so much easier then.

Beatrice M. Hogg is a coal-miner’s daughter and freelance writer who was raised in Western Pennsylvania and has lived in Northern California for twenty-five years, where she wrote her novel, Three Chords One Song, and continues to write about music and life in general.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash.

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