Friday, January 8, 2010

Wanting And Needing (Ode To A Calendar)

I am not a winter person and especially find January bleak and uninspiring. The only thing that salvages this time of year, in my opinion, it that we can start off with a fresh calendar and/or datebook. I always enjoy browsing the huge display of calendars that they put out in the book stores starting in October and usually by this time have purchased several. I have to have a datebook to carry in my bag or purse that sets out the boys' sports schedules, important phone numbers, etc. Then I like to have one with pretty pictures to hang in the kitchen. For the bedroom and my desk, I've always loved those page-a-day ones and have gotten them with knitting, crochet, water color painting, origami, cross stitch themes and so on. And oftentimes I'd give one of the boys a calendar of their favorite sports team as a Christmas gift.

If I am remembering correctly, I came across the figure a few years back that there are more than 300 different calendar themes to choose from. By now, maybe that number is up to 500! Talk about something for everyone - birds, cooking, gardening, puzzles, flowers, cute baby animals, The Far Side, jokes, nature... When you think about it, it is kind of amazing to have that much choice and selection. But also at the same time another in-your-face reminder of how our society operates - people will buy more, if there is more to buy. Boy, don't I know that being tempted to get more than one in the past. I remember those days when I was a kid and there were only a few designs to select from. It has almost gotten out-of-hand with too much product on the shelf, no matter what section of the store you are in. I once counted the soap dispensers available at Target and it was over 30!

Anyway, it has been a tough couple years financially. I have bit the bullet and strived to use and make do with what I already have. I came across the huge calendar displays at various times over the fall and resisted my impulse to at least get one of the page-a-days with the knitting or crochet theme since those are my hobbies. But alas, while I can hold off on buying new clothes and such, a calendar is one of those items that is non-usable. It needs to be replaced every year. So I went to Barnes & Noble earlier in the week to obtain a datebook. I'd been organizing my purse and records inspired by that surge we get come Jan. 1, and determined that a datebook is not something I can survive without.

I live in a big metropolitan area and the stores around here sell out of their stock quickly. The remaining calendar selection was slim but I found one that I liked with a design of birds that was cute and it was only $4.00, half price (plus I got another member discount so all was good). I had hoped to find one of the knitting or crochet page-a-days left but there were not any. This ended up disappointing me so the next day I went to another larger book store to see if they had any. They did not.

I was surprised at how much this started to bother me. I wanted one of these calendars and regretted not getting one earlier. They feature almost daily knitting/crochet patterns and pack a lot of bang into your buck. You're basically getting 100+ patterns for just $16.00 (full cost). I was disappointed and could have lived with not having one of those calendars this year - so be it - it wasn't the year for excess spending, think ahead to next year. But then I remembered that in past years they've had those stores in the mall that solely sell calendars at this time. So I said, "What the heck," I'll make a quick run to the mall and check it out.

Along with winter, I'm not a mall person. Just don't enjoy going to them and haven't for many years. I prefer hitting the smaller strip malls or to order by catalog. I was on a mission - to see if there was a calendar store and to get in and out as soon as possible. I entered the mall through a large department store and have to say that I did gaze longingly at the cute pajamas they had on sale for 70% off. Then when I walked through the fragrance section, I did think about how nice it would be to be able to afford a new scent. But for the time being I am doing okay using what I already have. And it does ultimately end up feeling better to use what I have!

Just a short distance away from this store was the calendar store and I purchased two page-a-day ones. I got the last knitting one they had and the crochet one, of which there were several. They were half-price so I paid $16.00 for both. I figure that ends up to be about 5 cents a day for a whole lot of enjoyment throughout the year. When I put the cost factor into it, I was able to justify the purchase. Making this purchase was also more meaningful because of the savings, as well as the fact that I'd had to search for the product after making the conscious decision that it was something that I really wanted and would miss if I didn't have. In the past, I'd just pick up one of the calendars back in October - it was a taken for granted, almost mindless purchase. This time is different. I am grateful that I found the calendars and that I'll be able to enjoy them all year. And again I am struck by the reality that it is often the little things that end up meaning the most. I also recently read that "the high" we obtain from material items is very short-lived. I found that once I got out of the sleepware and frangrance departments, I didn't really have any desire for pjs or a new bottle of perfume. Out of sight, out of mind.

Part of me wrestles with whether I should have restrained myself from making this purchase. After all, it wasn't entirely necessary. The datebook was what I really needed. But then I go back to the 5 cents a day cost and tell myself that indeed, it is worth that small cost. Even in the middle of struggles, whatever they may be, there have to be ways that we can treat ourselves and nurture our souls.

Today I am grateful that:

1. The snowstorm wasn't as bad as predicted.
2. Already the worst week of the entire year (in my opinion) is over!
3. There was one knitting calendar left and I got it.
4. The boys are getting caught up with their school work.
5. I don't have to shovel myself out as I did when I was a homeowner (at least one perk to renting).


  1. I am soooo glad you got the calendar. You are right...even in the midst of financial despair, we NEED to make a small purchase for something that will brighten our day. Now you have something that will brighten every day for the next year.

    I went from living a financially secure life to having nothing--remember the popcorn and milk or pb&j sandwiches for supper every night? Now, I am back to having a little bit and believe the old days I took it all for granted, now I am thriftier and really appreciate everything I get. You will be in that place soon...I just know it. Everything is going to be all right for you!!!

  2. Jude - Thanks so much for sharing and caring. And you are so right. Now when material goods can't be taken for granted, I find that what I do have means so much more. And when I am able to get something new, it is truly valued. I don't think I will ever go back to the way I was when I could buy what I wanted without too much thought. But that is a good thing!

  3. I'm with you. I have 5 calendars and a datebook.

  4. Thelma - I am glad I'm not the only one! Do you have specific purposes for each and/or do you pick up extras because there are too many to choose from?

  5. I used to bring home branded diaries from work (pharmaceutical marketing) for Cliff and it made me sad when I was given a couple of them in December, for I shan't use them. Afraid I am your electronic girl! But I understand what you mean, I used to just pick up anything when shopping, and never even checked prices, these days I am more careful and do it to show Cliff, who I know watches me, that I did listen and did learn and do remember. It's become a way of honouring him.

    I loved this post - the theme: "the simple things" is threaded right through it - it's a good way to remain grounded when everything seems like it's impossible, the simple things, and appreciating them, being grateful for them shows what you are made of.

    You are special, and it is inspiring. I mean you are an inspiration.

  6. Boo - Your loving and kind words are lifting me up today! I like how you are showing Cliff that you remember his lessons. What an active and positive way of honoring him!

  7. Your spirit just lifted me right up out of a funk. I could so see myself seeking out a simple item like that and finally finding it. Not really simple when it means so much and will give such lasting gifts and spark creativity.
    Thank you!

  8. Cape Cod Kitty - If you are needing to find something right now for a bit of a lift, I hope you find it soon. And let me know what inspired you. Thanks for letting me know that my post resulted in some good.

  9. You asked about my calendars. One, a 365 day one, was a gift from my daughter. I keep it by my computer. One is a pet one, given to me by a friend; it's in my libary/waiting room. One is from my husband's alumni association at Iowa State. I liked the pictures. It's in what used to be his office and is now where I see a few kids who come to my house for speech therapy. One is cartoons from Brevity. I usually buy a cartoon one every year and keep it in the breakfast room so I have something to laugh at every morning. The last one I bought in Ireland last spring. It's pictures of doors in Dublin and it's on the wall in my study.

  10. I have to agree that when you go without, once you do have a little bit you are so much more grateful and thrifty. I usually do not like grocery shopping but today was the first time in quite some time that I actually had some money to go. It took me twice as long to go through the store because I was aware of each item and it's cost and whether or not I really needed it. I think I got enough to last me until next pay check. It was just such a different experience from the usual grab what you need and go as fast as possible. I truly appreciated each and every item as I put each one away.

  11. Thelma - Your calendars all sound very nice and they each have a good place in your home. I like the idea of having a joke calendar and the hope that at least you'll have one laugh a day!

    Kelly - I am so right with you in regard to the grocery shopping. I weigh each and every purchase even to save 30 cents. It is wonderful to hear that you were able to fill your cart today and I really hope you got a few things that will make you smile over these next days (some kind of little treat for yourself).

    Take care everyone and have a good weekend. I hope all of us devote some time to relax and unwind and just be.