For those of you who are regulars to this site, you know that my friend, Marge, is my workout buddy. You would also know that our unquestionable commitment to exercise would surely be viewed as very questionable by fitness purists. Our workout regimen is something that is too convieniently resecheduled when unexpected things pop up in our week, such as working late, doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, no gas in the car, or inclement weather – too cold, hot, wet, or windy, to name just a few. Over the holidays, we found it necessary to cancel, I think, every planned get-together. That’s how we refer to working out – getting together, or meeting. It just sounds so much more inviting than, “Hey, wanna work our muscles til they scream and become embarrassingly sweaty in front of a bunch of fit, smug people?”
Anyway, we did manage to get together a few days ago and commiserated about how stressful the holidays can be, even though we both try very hard to keep things as simple as possible. My side of our family celebrates the week before Christmas and it is strictly a chance to enjoy each other’s company – no gifts, just good food, drink and laughs. Her family also celebrates before Christmas and plays a game where everyone arrives with a check made out for fifty dollars, puts the name of a favorite charity in a hat and each one takes a turn pulling one out. The last one pulled is the winner and each sibling then fills in the name of that charity on their checks. So much nicer than buying gifts for people who don’t need another “thing” in their house. Everyone I know is trying to purge excess clutter and simplify their lives. And, besides, the things I really need, I don’t think I could ask anyone to give me, like a tuition payment. That’s what I could really use.
So, with New Year’s Resolutions frantically being committed to, Marge and I became inspired at the gym the other day. No, our resolution has nothing to do with getting in shape or losing weight. Instead, as we discussed the current, cluttered state of our houses, cars, garages and brains, we resolved to get organized.
Before Christmas, my husband likes to take some time off work and get in the festive mood of the season. I, on the other hand, am desperately trying to get our house together for the upcoming Christmas celebrations and company that goes along with that. That means, the den has to be cleared of all the “stuff” that gets stored in there the rest of the year. Furniture must be rearranged to accomodate a tree, which, when first put up and decorated, is fun and pretty. Then after a couple of weeks, I find myself asking, “What is a tree doing inside my house”? It’s actually kind of weird, I think.
But, anyway, back to my pre-holiday prep – menus must be decided, food must be purchased or ordered, gifts must be bought for our offspring. On that note, I’ve always been obsessive about making sure that each of our four kids has the same number of packages to open because we take turns opening gifts and I thought it would really stink if everyone else was finished opening, yet someone was still left with five wrapped presents. Which meant I would wait until the last minute to wrap an insane number of gifts so that if one of the boys’ pile was a little more than the others, I could easily reassign a gift. The boys, for the most part, are pretty interchangable, as are their gifts. But, this year, as we readied ourselves for the gift-opening ritual, I made an announcement that I’d lost track and, quite frankly, interest, in doing the math…so there was a good chance the presents might be lopsided. To which the response was, “Yeah, Mom, you did the same thing last year.” I did? Oh well, at least it was all out in the open. I think they know I do my best, whatever that might be. And the crazy thing is, that with all the strain I placed on myself this year to “get it together”, my house still looked like something out of “Hoarders”. The day after Christmas, I found myself relaxing when, I was suddenly horrified to see a huge cobweb hanging from our skylight (which is a stupid feature in houses, by the way) and a thick (and I mean thick) layer of dust on our window blinds in the family room. Also on the wood floors under some furniture. And the sliding glass door, still showing signs of our dog’s disgusting wet nose and drool.
But, anyway, back to my poor husband who only wants to enjoy some time off and do nice things with me. I know he’s right. I shouldn’t stress over the preparations. Instead of sighing when he proposes going out for an afternoon of wine and cheese at Preservation Bread and Wine in Geneva (a plug for one of my favorite local places) because I have cabinets or closets that really need to be cleaned out, I go. But, my mind is filled with all the things I still need to do. And organizing cabinets or closets as pre-party prep doesn’t even make sense to him. But, when I can open a drawer or my pantry, or my bedroom closet and not see clutter, my mind is at ease. And everything is right with the world.
Marge was in agreement with my plight. As she often says, “You’re living my life.” And not in an envious way, either. We’re both in the same cluttered boat and desperately want to bail on that way of living. So, our New Year Resolution is to organize and purge, cabinet by cabinet, closet by closet, room by room. The goal is to have our houses in order by next Christmas so that we will be free to truly enjoy the season for what it’s supposed to be and not get caught up in the nervous tension that builds when chaos rules. Yes, next year, you’ll find me peacefully enjoying a glass of wine and a plate of cheese watching passersby with their shopping bags full on the beautifully decorated sidewalks of dowtown Geneva. And, who knows, maybe even in better shape as Marge and I take control of our lives. Because, we concluded, when you’re mind is cleared of clutter, everything else falls into place.