Whatever happened to …

… calendars?

I’m thinking specifically of those paper ones suitable for hanging on the fridge. I grew up with one on the side of the fridge and every family event was recorded there. The rules were “if it’s not in the calendar, it’s not happening”.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

There was a time for the month of January that we actually had two calendars on there as reference because things do happen in the new year and you record it in the old. Then, somewhere along the line, my mother would go through and move recurring events on the new calendar and add any phone numbers or addresses that had been added in the margin to the master phone book.

I’ve got to give a big shoutout to whoever thought of the 13 month calendar as it simplified things. It backed the transfer process up to February.

It seemed like every business in town had a calendar created to promote their business with branding and we would ultimately have to pick and choose which one to keep. If it wasn’t bad enough doing that, my father-in-law would always wrap one of his leftovers and give it to us as a Christmas present.

These days, we have a duplication of effort here. We do have a calendar that is hung on the fridge with magnets. My wife likes to see “life at a glance” and so the paper tradition continues. We no longer get them in the mail from local businesses so it’s a matter of either her picking one up while in town or me giving her one as a present. She’s a sucker for birds or anything with cardinals. Calendars at bookstores are not cheap.

I just went out to the kitchen to check and our calendar is from Racicot, the local Chrysler Jeep dealer and it’s got a calendar magnet from a local dentist (who we don’t go to so figure that) that’s at the bottom to keep the page from flying up.

As for me, my events are kept electronically so that I can access them on phone or computer as needed. It’s such a busy time; I have three daily “Walk the dog” reminders and a couple of Zoom beer events with friends along with the odd other event.

We’re getting close to the end of the year so calendars might take on increasing importance so please share your wisdom.

  • Of course, you and your family had a common calendar when you were young. Where was it and how did you use it?
  • Do you still us a paper calendar at home or work?
  • Have you gone completely paperless and your calendar is on your phone? Do you share it with others?
  • Have you ever put something in your calendar (either format) that you wish you could have made secret?
  • Despite keeping your calendar accurate, there must have been events that you missed. Do any stand out?
  • Do you have a look or theme that you like to use in a calendar?
  • Will your calendar needs/uses change in 2021?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

7 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Oh calendars! We did have a common wall calendar growing up, and my parents still keep a calendar on the wall and in a little journal book. If the event’s not included there, it’s not happening. I keep everything on a calendar on my iPad. The paper version never did work well for me. Curious to read about other people’s experiences. Thanks for taking us on this walk down memory lane.


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  2. I’m sure this will not surprise anyone but I keep multiple calendars. I have to write things down by hand to remember them so I have a paper calendar at home on the fridge and at school. Currently, the school one has been brought home in case we don’t return to the physical building in January. I keep a 6 month calendar in my commonplace book as well but to be honest I don’t reference it very often. I used to do a monthly and weekly page spread in my book as well but I’ haven’t kept up with it since the start of the pandemic since we don’t have extra-curriculars for the girls to keep track of. My husband and I have an shared Google calendar that holds all the same events as the paper fridge calendar, but with reminders (and colour coding!). Lastly, I have a work calendar tied to my email for all meetings and library read alouds.

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  3. For home, we still have our paper calendar beside the fridge! I find this year we need it more than ever! My daughter alternates between online and in school, so we need to keep that straight! I personally hate looking at phone calendars. I like the clear visual of a whole month in front of me. The computer calendar for work is not as bad. Although, I still tend to write a sticky note with important dates and put it beside my computer!

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  4. There was always a paper calendar up on the kitchen wall in my family home. I think the odd thing was jotted down by my parents, but not really a family organizer thing. I still like a nice calendar on the wall in the kitchen. We get one each year with nice photographs of birds compiled by a favourite photographer. My husband and I are reluctant to write on the pages as it comes through a bit on the next bird and we think there are a few we might frame sometime … 🙂 And more silliness: We now photocopy each month as we go and that copy goes up on the side of the fridge to scribble needed reminders on. That is our system for now. When our adult children come over, they often find amusement in our short form and cryptic-like notes on the calendar. Keeps them guessing haha


  5. Hi Doug!

    1) As a kid, the calendar was in the nook under the stairwell beside the telephone. Mom would transfer things to the new calendar, and yes we had phone numbers and things written in margins.

    2) There were a number of years through University and subsequently that I used a multiple month at a glance calendar to keep track of long-term dates like exams, midterms, paper due dates, as well as work hours and holidays/events. It was almost a piece of art, what with the carefully chosen colour-coded highlighters to differentiate the different categories.

    3) When I first started teaching, I became very comfortable using an augmented quo vadis planning diary of the “Principal” format. It had a nice big block for each day, allowing you to see the entire week over a two page spread. It was augmented because I also had fold out books with annual goals, etc. built into the end papers.

    4) After my first year teaching, I spearheaded a school student planner that incorporated the long-term timelines that I had learned about from experience after they appeared out of the blue during my first year. You know, things like science fair and public speaking, photo days, etc. things that are nice to know about before the beginning of the year when you begin your long-range planning. This was all before annual planning calendars for schools became a commercial enterprise.

    5) Around that time, I know I also did a laminated cover family calendar with birthdays and family photographs that I handed out at Christmas time.

    (Side Note to Doug: 4 and 5 were built using FileMaker.)

    6) The transition to electronic calendars was not without growing pains. Although the ability to establish recurring events and layer multiple calendars on top of one another in a computer calendar was helpful, it was years before calendar technology got beyond showing a very truncated version of an event. The initial incarnations were almost useless until you clicked on the event so that you could read what it was about in the pop out.

    7) The various handheld devices when they first started arriving finally cimfirmed the shift from paper to electronic for me. The palm pilot and it’s variants (I think the Handspring Edge was my early favorite, it was so thin) — and the addition of Bluetooth which allowed me to control my music from the kitchen — made for the beginnings of the modern times. With a handheld device, it no longer mattered that the computer calendar still truncated events in the month at a glance view, because it was so convenient to just navigate directly to a single day view and read what was there.

    8) The arrival of the iPhone and the iPod touch and the iPad completely consolidated my calendar within the iCal and google calendar worlds. They talk to one another and you can overlay multiple accounts so that things that need to be on a work calendar are on a work calendar, and things that need to be on a personal calendar are on a personal calendar. Try doing that with a piece of paper.

    9) I’ve had some success with shared Google calendars among family members, but I also know many who still use the calendar on their fridge to keep track of things. I haven’t been to the wall yet for a Christmas walk around, but I bet if I were to go there this afternoon, there would still be a huge kiosk selling paper calendars, as they make for a very timely gifts, but with the relative proximity of Christmas and the New Year.

    However, in this day and age, there are no paper calendars to be seen around here. My daily events and to do lists automatically show up on my watch, and there are times when I am even taken to asking the air what is on the agenda for today.

    Siri and Google are in the know.


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