Calendar girl

Yesterday I copied all the birthdays and anniversaries from my 2010 calendar onto my 2011 calendar then added the old calendar to my stack of those I've saved for years -- every year since 1997, to be exact.

I abhor packrats and do my best not to be one, so holding onto reminders of dentist appointments and "No School" dates of years past may seem in opposition to my cause. But the old calendars are so much more than appointment reminders: They are time in a bottle. Snapshots of the hustle and bustle of a once busy household. A record of the good, the bad, the scary, the sweet -- an organic record that didn't require me to journal or scrapbook or keep a diary or update a blog to maintain it.

Most of the markings on the grids of daily happenings are in my handwriting. Others are in the handwriting of one or another of the girls, applied in painstakingly perfect penmanship befitting an occasion important enough to be included on the family calendar for all to consider in their schedule.

Each notation holds much more than just a record of where we had to be and what time we had to be there, though. They hold stories, stories that bring mostly grins (birthday parties and school sporting events) and groans (dentist appointments and work schedules). Others cause my eyes to well up, my heart to grow a little cold, and a lump to form in my throat. Those are the notations of occasions that serve as poignant reminders of our challenges, the growing pains that strengthened our family fabric and made it the resilient, tight-knit one it is today.

As I skim the calendars before placing them back on the shelf for another year, here are some of the scribbles that touch my heart:

April 28, 1997: "Closing" - This is the date we officially bought the house we rented for 10 years before finally getting up the nerve -- and the income -- to ask our landlords if we could buy it. It's the house that became the childhood home of our three girls, the place we raised them all, from kindergarten through college.

July 21-25, 1997: "Brianna in Texas" - Brianna went to Work Camp; we remodeled our new house to add a fourth bedroom while she was gone. Andrea and Megan rejoiced at no longer having to share a room, no longer having to divide the space with duct tape down the center. Jim and I rejoiced that the bickering would end.

May 25, 1998: "Andie leaves" - Andrea spent a week at Sea Camp in San Diego and to this day still dreams of working with dolphins. Somewhere. Somehow. Which is a tad challenging considering she lives in the Rocky Mountains.

March 22, 1999: "5:30 a.m. Brianna skiing" - Clinches the heart a bit as Brianna will likely never ski again after the damage done to her back when her (stopped) car was rear-ended at a stoplight by a landscaping truck.

April 24-25, 1999: "Retaining wall" - One of the many "huh?" markings on the calendars, important at the time but now completely forgotten.

October 15, 1999: "UNC College Day" - Our first visit to check out a college for our first-born.

July 18, 2000: "Test w/HR 2:30" - The beginning of my newspaper career.

July 28-29, 2000: "American Co-ed Pageant" - Megan needed college funds and left no stone unturned. She won no pageant money but we both received an unexpected -- and unpleasant -- introduction to pageantry and "pageant moms." Believe me when I say Little Miss Sunshine resonates.

October 25-27, 2001: "Seward" - Our first visit with Megan to what would become her college town. And eventually Andrea's college town.

June 22-27, 2002: "Disney World" - Our last vacation as a family. <sniff>

June 29, 2002: "Marked words: Brianna will NOT be with Eric at this time next year!" - Too funny now. What's not funny is that marking one's words doesn't make things magically come true ... or eliminate the need to keep marking them.

May 25, 2003: "Andie's Graduation Party" - My baby, my last daughter, graduated and soon off to college.

June 27, 2003: "I'm old" - Any guess as to whose birthday this was?

July 22, 2006: "Meg's wedding!"

June 18, 2008: "BUBBY!" - Okay, it doesn't really say "Bubby," it says his real name. An all-caps pronouncement of joy just the same.

December 5, 2008: "D-Day!" - This was the day my layoff was scheduled ... and occurred. The end of my stint as a special sections editor. The end of my newspaper career.

Sprinkled throughout the calendar pages, amidst notes about the girls going on mission trips, attending prom, graduating from high school and college, are red-letter dates of concerts and performances that Jim and I were to attend: Pearl Jam, Live, Tommy, Black Crowes, Rent, Counting Crows and more. Memorable occasions all. But my pile of ticket stubs serves as a better reminder of those particular dates. And, yes, serves as another large stack of paper this non-packrat refuses to get rid of.

On second thought, maybe I am a packrat after all. A sentimental packrat with lots of memories worth holding on to.

Today's question:

What do you do with your old calendars?