When Mom passed away, I returned home from her funeral with an extra suitcase filled with momentos. One was the 2012 calendar that hung on her wall and for a reason I don’t fully understand, I couldn’t leave it behind.
I am one of those fussy calendar people who looks forward to browsing the pop-up calendar kiosks that appear soon after Halloween. For the past few years I’ve selected “Yoga Cats” for my office, before that “Yoga Dogs” and the Llewellyn Astrological Signs for at least ten years before that. With bold colours and eye-catching over-sized layouts, it is the artwork on my wall that changes every month. I never look ahead, but instead wait to see what will reveal itself with an easy flip and begin each month anew. Because these are works of art that represent a year in my life, I also never throw them out. I have decades worth of calendars and planners all neatly stacked in a downstairs closet, the same closet that houses my childhood journals, archival hightlights of my work and cherished momentos.
I hung the calendar from Mom’s kitchen wall on my fridge. Lo and behold, late that fall a new calendar arrived in the folds of the Winnipeg Free Press, free from the Dairy Producers of Manitoba. It was then I realized that Mom’s calendar had come to her the same way, through the dairy organization in Ontario. Mom always said it was bad luck to put a calendar up before the first day of a new year, so after looking through it and seeing for the first time what a beautiful calendar the dairy farmers produce, I put it way until January 1st. I did the same in 2014, but in 2015 I didn’t get a copy of the calendar despite buying every Saturday Free Press that fall; and then spent the whole year sort of wondering if it had been discontinued, but was too busy to investigate. This year, I was thrilled to pick one up at the Ag in the City display at the Forks in March. The 2016 year is the most beautiful one so far.
Curious, I called the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba office and spoke with Market Development Director, Jason Brandes. He explained that too many calendars were being trashed with the unsold copies of the newspapers so they decided to discontinue inserting in the copies sold in the stores, opting for inclusion only for home subscribers. Jason chuckled when I told him how much I’ve grown to love their calendar.
“We start getting calls this time of year about the calendar,” he said of what has become a bit of a cultural icon. “They love the recipes and put it on their bulletin board every year.”
A few complaints came the year after they switched from the traditional landscape format to the more stylish, portrait layout. I told him that I love the new layout because it fits so well on my fridge. I confessed to feeling a bit desperate, that I need to get my hands on one for the upcoming year.
He laughed. They did a study this year asking respondents how they felt about the calendar and the results were overwhelmingly postive, especially to the phrase: “I look forward to receiving the milk calendar every year.”
2017 marks its 40th anniversary. Home subscribers to the Winnipeg Free Press will receive their calendars in the Saturday, Dec. 3rd issue. Brandon Sun and Parkland Shopper on Dec. 1st. For those of us who do not subscribe, we can pick up a copy at the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba office (4055 Portage Ave., take the entrance off Hwy. #1 at the Red River Ex grounds) or request one online HERE.
Jason warns that stock is limited so if you want one, act fast.