It’s too early to be thinking about next year, I realize, but I have been forced to by the need to edit U.S. 1’s annual wall calendar, coming to your office with the delivery of this issue of U.S. 1.

It’s not even New Year’s and the decision-making process about what to do on that festive eve has not even begun. My boys — ages 10 and 8 (11 and 9 early in the new year, though it’s way too early to think about that) and I will make that countdown together this year and we need to plan a celebration that will please us all (or at least two out of three).

And it’s not even Christmas. We at Bachelors III haven’t put up a tree yet — nor have we even decided whether we are going to have a dead tree or a live tree. That will be a big decision for my boys and me.

And of course after the installation of the tree — only after that — I will begin considering my Christmas shopping. It’s too early to make a list, of course, and in any case I will also need to decide when to do the shopping. I might not wait until the last minute — in fact, Monday, December 23, looks like a good time to do the shopping. Then if I need to I can follow up on December 24.

Of course I will also check the sign at CVS Pharmacy and see how late it is open on Christmas Eve. That’s last minute and I can’t tell you how many times I have marked off my gift list with items plucked from a half-empty shelf just before closing time December 24 at the pharmacy.

But despite all the water that still has to flow under the bridge of the year 2002, I have been dragged forward into the year 2003. It’s that U.S. 1 wall calendar, coming to your office this week, and for the past three or four weeks we at U.S. 1 have been plowing through our events database, figuring out which ones to list in the tiny squares to which each day is reduced.

We ended up listing more than 1,100 separate events, and those were selected from more than twice that number already listed in our events database. No, I cannot yet tell you whether our tree will be dead or alive, but I can tell you quite a bit about the year 2003.

If you are a calendar editor your eyes light up at Friday, February 14, not because it’s Valentine’s Day but because there are 16 events vying for the four remaining spaces in that day’s block. Saturday, March 8, is a challenge: 17 events vying for five spaces — from "The Ugly Duckling" at Kelsey Theater to "Carmen" at Westminster Choir College to "The Countess" at Off-Broadstreet.

As always the last weekend in April is a challenge, with Communiversity, the New Jersey Folk Festival, and Lambertville Shad Festival all vying for a place on the calendar.

And now consider Monday, May 19 — an ordinary day in most people’s calendars. Not if you are a golfer. No fewer than four charity golf outings are scheduled that day: the Foundation Fighting Blindness, New Jersey Technology Council, Eden Institute, and the Diabetes Association. It’s a good thing the Stuart School scheduled its golf tournament the Monday before, and the Princeton Y two Mondays later, and the Princeton Chamber three Mondays later.

Last year at this time I was telling anyone who would listen that I was excited about the arrival of 2002, since I was sure that it was going to be a better year than 2001. But apart from the fact that we have kept the terrorists at bay (and it is obviously too early to make that claim for the entire year), the year 2002 otherwise has not seemed any better than 2001.

The best thing about 2003 might turn out to be that the holidays fall on convenient days. Fourth of July is on a Friday this year — perfect since there is no question about which day offices will be closed.

Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on a Friday and Yom Kippur begins at sunset on a Sunday. That’s good news because lots of calendars list the Jewish holidays on the following day — causing organizations to schedule events the night before and only later realize that their Jewish constituents cannot attend. In 2003, as far as we know, only the Catholic Charities Guardian Angels dinner is scheduled opposite the first night of Rosh Hashanah on September 26 and nothing at all opposite Yom Kippur on October 5.

As for Christmas and New Year’s, 2002, is — or will be — a scheduling disaster. Those holidays on a Wednesday causes all of us to pause. If we want to shut our businesses down for five straight days, we can give everyone the Thursday and Friday off after the holiday. If we want to be modest in our approach we can give just one extra day, but which should it be — the Tuesday or the Thursday?

The dilemma is solved in 2003 with the holiday falling on a Thursday — let’s all close down Friday as well and have consecutive four-day weekends to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And happy holidays of all sorts is what I will be wishing all of you — but not now. It’s too early for that.

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