When the clock strikes noon a year from tomorrow and Ronald Reagan's presidency formally comes to an end, it will be morning in America at last for Laurence McGilvery.

So eager for that deliverance is McGilvery, a cottage publisher from La Jolla, Calif., that he has prepared a "Countdown Calendar" to herald the nation's awakening from "the long nightmare" of the Reagan administration.

More in sorrow than in anger -- and may be even more in sorrow than in fun -- McGilvery calls his creation the "Ronald Reagan Countdown Calendar, Celebrating the Final 366 Days of the 8-Year Reign of Image Over Substance, Fantasy over Fact, Reaction Over Reason, Greed Over Grace and the Simultaneous Dismantling of the American Traditions of Honesty, Fairness, Justice and Peace."

For McGilvery, in town yesterday to distribute copies in front of the White House, each day is an anniversary of some inauspi cious event or unconscionable statement by President Reagan or a member of his entou rage. Each month is a rich sampler of Reaganesque slapstick and infamy and gibberish. The "Countdown Calendar" provides daily chapter and verse for the president's true disbelievers.

Itbegins with a devastating excerpt from Reagan's Jan. 20, 1981, inaugural address: "For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue that long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals."

In the ensuing entries, the president seldom sounds so wise.

Sept. 23, 1984: In explaining the bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut, Reagan says, "Anyone that's ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would."

Oct. 7, 1984: There is "no connection," Reagan says in a debate with Walter Mondale, between the deficit and interest rates.

Nov. 13, 1986: Reagan says, "We did not -- repeat -- did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages. Nor will we."

Loyal to a fault, Reagan's underlings follow the chief's example.

June 30, 1981: Vice President George Bush declares publicly to Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, "We love your adherence to democratic principles and to democratic processes."

March 26, 1982: An assistant secretary of agriculture, John B. Crowell Jr., says he is "sure" the Sierra Club and Audubon Society are "infiltrated by people who have very strong ideas about Socialism and even Communism."

July 8, 1987: Oliver North calls the diversion of Iran arms-sales funds to the contras "a neat idea."

McGilvery, 55, an antiquarian art book dealer and publisher of "esoteric, scholarly" books, was motivated to create the calendar, he says, by almost daily feelings of incredulity that Ronald Reagan, whom he calls "an ignoramus," was in the White House. "I kept pinching myself," he says, and then he decided to channel that energy into something more constructive and even profitable.

McGilvery says he thought the calendar would appeal to "someone a lot like me ... that small minority of people who just are constantly outraged by some of the excesses of the administration. This man has had extraordinary good luck in sidestepping the blunders, in shifting the blame for things to other people."

The "Countdown Calendar," for its part, takes a rather expansive attitude toward blunders and blame. Is the administration really responsible, as the calendar suggests, for the depletion of the ozone layer? What is Reagan's connection to Oral Roberts and his $8 million pay-up-or-I'll-die fund-raising gambit? And does the Challenger disaster really belong here?

The calendar has been available since Thanksgiving, and McGilvery says half its 25,000 first printing has been sold. A three-inch ad in The New Yorker with only enough space to print the full title -- "It was all we could afford" -- brought more than 2,000 orders. A second printing is in the works.

National bookstore chains won't carry the "Countdown Calendar," McGilvery says, because he didn't meet their purchasing timetables, but independent bookstores have been stocking and restocking it. Anyone inclined to geographic and so ciographic stereotypes will not be surprised to learn of significant "Countdown Calendar" orders from Berkeley, Calif., Burlington, Vt., Durham, N.C., and other university communities; from the Upper West Side of Manhattan; and, in Washington, from Common Concerns and Politics & Prose, among other bookstores.

The calendar is finding its political uses, too. Pat Cromwell, the South Dakota Democratic Party's western field director, has organized a celebration in Rapid City tomorrow night to launch the countdown. Flyers bearing such slogans as "Put Bonzo to Bed" and "5-4-3-2-1-Vacate!" have drawn several hundred early registrants for the occasion, which will include a Reagan administration "Wheel of Corruption" and an Edwin Meese look-alike auctioning off the Constitution.

McGilvery -- who did all the research for the calendar, at the University of California at San Diego library, and produced it with help from various members of his family -- says he is "not a political pundit nor do I have pretensions to being one." For a man with his eye trained on Reagan's last day, he professes scant interest in his successor, so long as he's a Democrat. "I'd be happy with anybody who could beat George Bush," McGilvery says.

His own views, he says, never appear directly in the "Countdown Calendar." Some "loaded language" he'd written for an early version was excised on counsel of his daughter Erin, who designed the calendar.

But it is hard not to feel McGilvery's approval for, say, the words of C.S. Lewis that Reagan himself quoted, in a different context, before a convention of evangelicals in 1983, and that constitute the calendar's final entry:

"The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered ... {in} carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices."