By Esther C. Baird/Tri-Town Transcript columnist
First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript April 14, 2014
I don’t mean to alarm you, but our family is going to not exist for a few days here in early April. We’ll still be in Boxford. The girls will still go to school (except when one or the other is battling whatever nasty virus is making the rounds after festering under the ice pack all winter) and I will, sigh, still be making lunches. But none of those activities will take place within the framework of our family calendar, and in my world, that means they don’t count.
I don’t mean my iPhone calendar that syncs to ten thousand iDevices plus a space station on the dark side of the moon. Sure, my phone has the data, but things don’t come into true existence until they are hand written, on our real life, paper calendar that hangs in our kitchen.
This year, our current calendar ran out before I was finished making our new one. Yes, I make them . . . not in some crazy-Pinterest-crafty-scrapbook-fancy-scissor way, but rather I match up photos from the preceding year to be showcased in the upcoming year, month by month. Whatever exciting things occurred last June may pop up in next June’s photo spread. But, oh the pressure. The internal angst. Because how to choose? The best photo-calendar programs (or say the free one that comes with iPhoto) allow me six, maybe seven, photos per page with the month displayed below.
How can I possibly choose six or seven photos that sum up our family in any given month. Is the family calendar a photojournalistic glimpse into the gritty reality of our Tri-Town life? For example should next February include the unflattering (but real) selfie I took from the ER gurney during my Shingles debacle? Or what about the photo I took of the Giant Sparkle when I plunged it into a snow bank, threw a temper tantrum, and made our young daughters hike up our long driveway in knee-deep snow? Or, does our family calendar represent all that we hope to be? Instead of scraped knees and cars on tow trucks, do we show the lovely Easter photo of us all looking clean and well dressed, or the girls receiving school awards and church club certificates? Do I include the photo of Blue Ears in Lockwood Forest mid-leap across Fish Brook the one time I managed to catch it? Or do I show the photo of him surrounded by a cloud of deer flies as was the daily norm May through September?
What about the photo that made me look like a laid back, educationally minded mother when, for thirty minutes, I let my older daughter bake and decorate cupcakes while my younger daughter threw wet clay on our granite countertop to make a snake pot? That was a harrowing thirty minutes brought on by blizzard number five hundred . . . but it did happen. I could forever be remembered in the family calendar as the Crafty Mom Who Doesn’t Mind a Mess even though I am absolutely not that mom the majority of the time.
What tells the story of this winter better? The brief week escape to sunshine and sand, or the brutal reality of roof raking day after day? I have photos of both. Summer shots of ice cream and smiles? Or summer shots of limp sweaty kids after a ten hour drive from New Jersey to Boston?
Sometimes it’s fun to remember the hard stuff as proof that we made it through, yet it’s always good to remember the days of laughter because they give us hope of more to come.
In the end the calendar will be a mix of the crazy, the frustrating, and the delightful. That’s how reality is . . . or at least it will be, once the family calendar is back on our wall.