If you walked into my home right now – you would question whether or not someone in our home was a “hoarder.” If you’ve seen the recent reality television show that goes into the homes of people who have accumulate a multitude of things and live secretly in quite a cluttered mess – you can picture what my home may be looking like right now.
Unusually, I have been rather laid back about the situation that is mounting in my home. I am one of those people that typically get a bit squirrely with too much messiness around me. I literally have trouble focusing when things appear to be unorganized. Although I have not picked up the litter around me, I have managed to comment on it to my family on numerous occasions. Each time they all were unphased by my words continuing to stare at the television or whatever electronic device may be clenched in their hands. For some strange reason I chose not to react. I have chosen not to go on a yelling rant or cleaning rampage. I don’t know why. It’s very uncharacteristic of me.
The other night I went upstairs to go to bed and my husband and two youngest children were lying on my bed watching television. Again, halfheartedly, I made the attempt to bring the accumulation of things in my room to their attention, “I really can’t believe the state of our home. It appears that hoarding has become a way of life without my constant maintenance.”
My daughter immediately responded.
“I know! I love it! I think it is great!”
At first I was perplexed by her response. But after absorbing it for a day or two, I think I may know what she was intending. I don’t believe that she loves the physical untidiness: the piles of laundry (clean and dirty), the half emptied Christmas decoration boxes, the tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling on the floor, the sticky countertops in the kitchen, the slimy streams of toothpaste in the bathroom sink, the stacks of Amazon boxes waiting to be broken down for recycling, the kitchen table littered with cups and catalogs, the blankets strewn across the sofa estranged from the rack they normally hang on, or the piles of dirty dishes in the sink with dried on food that never make it into the dishwasher because the dishwasher has to be emptied – again. She can’t possibly like those surroundings and think they are great – right?
Nope. That’s not it. What she likes is WHY our home looks like this right now. It looks like this because I have been busy. But not busy trying to plan and stage the perfect Christmas like I typically do. Busy spending time with my kids – focusing on what they are saying and doing – not nodding and shooing them away because I am busy cleaning.
This past weekend was a big one for her. She was in The Nutcracker. Tech Rehearsal was Thursday night. Performance Friday night. Performance Saturday afternoon and another Saturday night. Performance Sunday afternoon. Monday I was busy preparing for my evening dance classes – wrapping presents for teachers, signing Christmas cards and preparing treats for my students. I wasn’t focused on cleaning – no time. Today I was busy shopping – I realized yesterday that I still had 10 people to shop for that I didn’t have a single gift purchased yet. But - no panic.
As I sit here and type this I have yet to have a shower today. I took my youngest kids to my mother’s home for art class. I shopped online this morning. I had had every intention of showering and going out to the mall but that didn’t work out. I had 2 children to pick up from school – at different time intervals that wouldn’t allow me enough time to shop. As I was driving around, it occurred to me that I was unusually calm. I thought about all that I had to do. Baking. Shopping. Wrapping. Decorating. I’m in so far over my head right now – unlike any other time in my life. I have completely lost all organization and control over this Christmas. Yet I have never felt less anxious. I’m usually in such a whirlwind taking care of everything and stressed to the max. How come I don’t feel stressed out knowing how much I have to do?
I have no explanation for you. As I was sitting at the stop light I thought about the fact that it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. Certainly not the way I normally feel 10 days away. I wondered if I was depressed. I wondered if I had finally lost my marbles. I wondered what on Earth could possibly be going on with me. I haven’t done one “Martha Stewart” like preparation and that couldn’t be further from my personality.
I make at least 12 different kinds of fancy Christmas cookies. I make dozens of fresh greenery arrangements for my home. I make the trip to Homestead Gardens to buy a gorgeous poinsettia for each room of the house. I make wonderful bows by hand to attach to my color coded packages. I plan a phenomenal Christmas feast for dinner. I get out the Christmas china and glassware and wash it. I do all of these things while I shop and clean and keep a perfectly manicured home.
But I haven’t done one of those things this year. But what I have done is sit with my children and attend all of their functions. I will be attending a wrestling match later this week – then a Nutcracker cast party – then perhaps visit with a friend at her Holiday Wine and Cheese. I keep trying to look at the calendar and plan when all of this cleaning and preparation is going to finally begin. After all – I am hosting Christmas just like I do every other year in a little over a week.
But today while I was sitting in the car thinking about all of this- worrying that something was wrong with me for not feeling the Christmas spirit and not orchestrating my home properly – I suddenly felt very peaceful. I heard my daughter’s words in my head again –
“I know! I love it! I think it is great!”
Then I got it...
Luke 10:38-42 - At the Home of Martha and Mary
" As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
And I was filled with joy. I might be unshowered and unorganized living in a hoarder’s looking home with fewer gifts to give that are not wrapped with bows. But I’ve given my children my time, my focus, my attention and my energy. I’ve given them my undivided love this season. I have unknowingly been released from the “captivity of activity” (thanks Beth) and channeled my inner “Mary” while shushing that nagging “Martha.”
I am at peace and my daughter loves it and thinks it’s great…
Merry Christmas, my girl.