12/20/07

I Didn't Clean My House!

Sunday night we had guests over for dinner and I didn’t clean my house!

It was an internal war inside – do I vacuum, dust and clean – or just let it go?

Would I rather continue on with what had already been a peaceful day – or kick it into high gear, running around crazily trying to make everything look “just right?” I won’t even mention what kind of mood that puts the whole family in. Did our guests even care? Or even notice?

To some people, this Christmas season brings stress, dread and worry. I think of Narnia without Aslan – “always winter but never Christmas.” We even lose our focus as life gets hurried and complicated. We dash around doing things that really don’t matter (like cleaning my house before the guests arrive!), and then our perspective shifts. We get so caught up in our present circumstances that we can’t see beyond our difficulties.

I had been focusing all day on “hope,” as I’ve been feeling hurts and pains that people around us have been experiencing this season. If we lose our hope – what else is there? Where do we turn?

Some call it optimism, but when I look deep into the Christ-child’s eyes, I call it hope. It is enough assurance for me that I can put the dreariness of Christmas aside: money, commercialism, and even too much tradition, or making sure my house looks perfect for all the “hub-bub” taking place.

We had such a great time with our guests. At one point I found myself looking down at the un-vacuumed carpet. For a split second I was embarrassed. Then I looked up into the faces of those around our table and my perspective shifted back into place.

It is through my faith - which is the basis for my hope – that my priorities are put into proper perspective. It’s not about the crumbs on the floor or the unorganized piles – it’s about the HOPE that resides in each one of us.

Yes, that’s enough for me!

(One reader commented that she is hosting guests several times this next week. She wrote, "I'm going to throw all the Christmas paraphenalia in my bedroom, and put a sign on the door that says, "Santa's Workshop. Keep Out!" Great idea!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I always wonder about the person whose house is perfectly tidied. Don't they have time for the things that are most important? When Hannah was in daycare ages ago, I remember the teacher saying to me, "You should worry about what the kids are doing if their clothes are spotless and there are no toys on the carpet." I always worry about what people think about my house, yet I never even give a second thought to a host's house. As long as the bathroom is clean, I could care less about crumbs on the floor!

Melissa (Lis) Garrett
http://www.MelissaGarrett.wordpress.com

suburban prep said...

What a great way of expressing.
I feel the same way.
Growing up in a large family, trust me things were never "just right" but it is life that is just right.
Merry christmas.

Stephanie said...

I like the idea of this, but what do you do when you know you are going to have a super-critical guest (i.e. my mother-in-law) who will point out and/or start cleaning everything you neglected?

When we have other guests, I can put cleaning on the backburner and simply enjoy myself, but I end up spending *days* cleaning before my MIL comes. It totally stresses me out!

Barb said...

Been there, done that. For one thing, your husband should tell his mother to knock it off. (If he hasn't read it yet, buy him Sandy's husband's book No More Christian Nice Guy!) Beyond that (sometimes mothers won't listen to their sons), let your mother-in-law host holidays in her perfect home, and you just invite relatives who treat you respectfully to yours. Having your mother-in-law right in your personal living room is not so important that Christmas should be ruined for you.

Elizabeth said...

What a great reminder for me! I feel so much better when the house is tidy, but sometimes the pressure of doing it all is just too much! As we speak, I'm fretting about all the prep I have to do before Christmas company descends. ;)

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Thanks for the timeliness of this post! I really needed to hear it, as I'm hosting friends several times in the next week. I want people to feel comfortable in our home and enjoy themselves. So, I'm going to throw all the Christmas paraphenalia in my bedroom, and put a sign on the door that says, "Santa's Workshop. Keep Out!"

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

This was such a great post. Let it sink in your heart : )

You've gotten good advice already here, but I'd like to add: when people pitch in to help (WHATEVER their motives) I've learned to offer an enthusiastic "THANK YOU! that really helps out." And smile. And say no more.

Thanks for such a great post, Sandy.

deb meyers

linda t said...

Thanks Sandy.
Many years ago I stopped being about a perfect home and more about creating a safe place for others to be known and loved.
Tonight I am hosting a gathering of four families that have been together every single Christmas Eve for 23 years. (we rotate homes) The last couple years we have started doing it the week before Christmas rather than Eve.
We take a 'couch pic' every year of the kids and also one of the four Mom's. We have so much fun every year looking back on those pics and seeing the changes! (I have them all in an album)
I can hardly wait for them to get here!

momrn2 said...

What a comfort to know we can rest in the expectations that God has for us rather than what other's have.

So very freeing! Especially since I have folded laundry piled in my living room to be put away and the rest of the house cleaning to be done! ;-)

I promise I won't use this post as an excuse to never clean... just a reminder to never use the shape of my house as a reason to not be inviting to others!

Truly a season of hope indeed!!

Lovella said...

On Saturday I will be hosting someone from Australia that I have never met aside from blogging. I'm a bit nervous and I've invited 2 other ladies to share lunch with us .. (all bloggers). I know that the fellowship will be wonderful and it will be the first ever meeting and not the lunch that will be remembered.

Ornery's Wife said...

This is such wonderful advice, but it's difficult to overcome a lifetime of indoctrination that you should honor your guests with a clean house. It is sort of like dressing up for church; God doesn't really care, but out of respect for Him we clean up on the outside, even if we are a mess on the inside!

For years I made my family miserable trying to get everything "just so" before guests arrived. By the time they got there, we were all irritable and worn out! My kids don't care to entertain for just this reason. Now, I don't expect anything from others, but do what I feel like I can and still be comfortable but not worn out. It's been a hard habit to overcome!
TM

Terri said...

Oh! Good for you! Remind me to come back here and re-read this piece next time we have comapany coming over!!! I usually get so wound up that I either in a bad mood or exhausted or both by the time guests arrive! How dumb is that?
Happiest of New Years to you and yours!
God bless.
Terri

Dawn said...

The New Year's Even that we were to spend at our friends' home unexpectedly shifted to ours that day when we exhausted all hope of babysitting. I had to just accept that it was the fellowship that was important, not the condition of our house. We had a lovely evening!

I'm going to link you on a post I'm writing. Your blog has a lovely and important mission. :-)