It’s calendar time of year again. The Sapeurs-Pompiers appeared last night with theirs. It’s a good quality one but, disappointingly, not like the one produced by firemen in Amiens in 2010 that featured this photo:

Now that’s some calendar!

So far the postlady, whom we unflatteringly refer to as the postlazy because that’s what she is, hasn’t managed to bring herself to drive down to the house to sell us La Poste’s offering this year. She also hasn’t been able to force herself to drive down with three recent lettres racommendés. On each occasion she has preferred to spend longer filling in the detailed slip to leave in our mailbox up by the gate, rather than come to the house to get us to sign for it there and then. Big sigh. So I’ve had to wait until after 11 a.m. next day to go down to the tiny post desk at the Auberge in Nouzerines to collect the registered letter. This is always hit and miss. Sometimes the postlazy hasn’t been by yet to drop off stuff at the Auberge that she couldn’t be bothered to deliver the day before and pick up the new post from there. And you can’t leave it too late because the staff at the Auberge are busy from midday till almost 4pm serving lunches, so you can’t bother them between those hours. Another big sigh. And if I sound hacked off with our postlazy, that’s because I am! I shan’t be that fussed if she doesn’t grace our doorstep at some point. The 2011 Post Office calendar was rather naff.

So back to the Sapeurs-Pompiers. Possibly a reflection of the drought this year, but there’s definitely a lot less water being splashed around in the 2012 calendrier when practically every photo was awash with it last year. But there are some good action-packed shots nonetheless. There are also lots of ads by local businesses so it’s a very useful resource.

I currently have half a dozen foldable postcard-size calendars on my desk. Every shop you go into at the moment presses one on you and they have appeared alongside le pub (publicity brochures) in the mailbox too. Previously I was daunted by all these calendars, but now that I’m well on my way to becoming a French citizen, I revel in them. I tuck them in various places around the house so I’ll always be able to find out which saint’s day it is and when the school holidays are in any of the three educational zones in France. All urgent need-to-know stuff!

The saints’ days are a key feature. It’s one of those odd things. France is a studiously secular nation and yet all these holy men and women are celebrated on every calendar. In the past it was the norm for children to be given the name of the saint on whose day they were born. This slipped to being a child’s second name, but these days the custom has all but vanished.

An empty, brand new calendar can be a daunting thing. Depending on my mood, I wonder what  triumphs or disasters are going to crop up during the days listed in it. Time will tell. It won’t be dull this year. Caiti will be off to Uni so we have all the excitement of selecting where she wants to go in the next few months. Rors will start at college, we plan to get pigs and more sheep, I’ll hit my half-century – oops, time to stop or I’ll slip into disaster mode.

Here’s hoping 2012 brings health and happiness to your household.