Now that we’re into the “new” year, it’s time for us to get a new calendar to guide us through the days weeks and months.

Generally speaking, several calendars will suffice for most of us, but I will tell you that every year, I am receiving more and more of them, free, in the mail.

In 2016, I got 98 calendars in the mail – none requested, and all connected with pitches for money for some good cause or another.

This year, as of the last day of ’17, I received 148 calendars.

That’s right, 148! Can any of you match that?

All have beautiful pictures. All are on slick paper and – other than the one or two I might use – the rest? Who knows what will happen to them.

It’s bad enough that they seem to pile in over the last couple of months of the year. I actually start getting them as early as April! It’s quite astonishing.

The other things that I get in the charity pitches are those damnable return address stickers. I get them in all combinations of my name and address and, quite frankly, I get them by the hundreds.

I never try to count them. But while I have used some, and disposed of some, I have a huge pile of them.

I couldn’t live long enough to be able to use all of them. I can’t shred them because they gum up my shredder. I don’t throw them away “as is” because I don’t want my name and address out there for someone to find. I’d like to burn them, but California has laws against fireplace fires, and campfires are too dangerous, given our wildfire dangers!

They also send piles of little notepads, most with my name on them, which makes them useless for me to donate to my favorite charity.

Who wants notepads with someone else’s name on them?

So much for charity! I don’t know why these outfits seem to think that by flooding me with these freebies, I’ll be more inclined to send them a check.

Uh. No. I won’t tell you the nasty thoughts that go through my mind as my mailbox is filled with such solicitations.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent the better part of last year plowing my way through what is generously called “junk mail.” I have been inundated with it, and none of it was requested.

Just a couple days ago, when I picked up my mail at the post office, among the junk were three – count ’em, three – identical envelopes from the same outfit. All arrived on the same day!

All this came about because, over time, I’ve made some donations to outfits that deal with issues I care about. The problem with that is that once one gets a contribution, every other charity of the same type gets my address, and it goes on from there. There’s no end to it.

I once made a contribution to a religious organization, and suddenly I was getting dunning letters from priests in Alaska, in Canada, convents of nuns across the country, and every other “ministry” that plays on religious sympathies.

Somehow, I don’t think God would approve. I know I don’t.

All I can say, is that while the post office continuously complains about how it’s losing money and threatening to raise postal rates, it seems to me they should leave first-class postage alone and raise rates on junk mail.

As a matter of fact, we are told that sometime in January, rates will go up again. My postal clerks don’t say how much, but do say they’re ready for the new rates.

Swell, but what about junk mail?

Earlier in 2017, I was out of town for two weeks taking care of some family business and when I got home, Yes! I had mail!

You know those big white, plastic tubs they put mail in? I had two of them, filled to the top with more than 400 pieces of junk mail.

Yes, there were a few mailings that were important, but the rest? Junk!

Given that I want to get my name and address out of them before trashing them, it took ages to get through it all.

There is one positive aspect of some of the junk. A number of organizations have taken to sending real money – usually coins – pennies, nickels, dimes quarters and half-dollars, and sometimes, actual dollar bills. I’ve even gotten an occasional $2 bill.

They ask me to return them with a further donation.

No, I keep the change.

Occasionally, the outfit sends a real check for $2 to $3, asking me to return it with my donation to their cause.

Forget that! I take it to the bank and cash it.

I’ve actually had weeks when I’ve “made” more than $6 in free money! I guess that makes up a bit for my labor in going through all the junk, but, really, what a waste of time and paper.

I wish they would stop using the gruesome pictures of tortured animals on the outside of their envelopes as they make their pitch for donations.

It doesn’t work on me, though they do make me sad for the suffering.

At least the calendars they send show beautiful, healthy animals – but cold, hard-hearted me doesn’t send them a dime as the calendars pile up.

I do contribute to animal charities, but not the ones that inundate me with junk mail.

Sorry guys.

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