Christmas pretty

I feel like I owe you a Christmas post. To assure you that we got the tree and put it up and strung (a little) popcorn and set up a couple nativities, etc. (Or maybe it’s to reassure myself that I’m on the right track?)

We’ve done it all—and parts of it have even been fun!—but what I really want to know is: HOW IN THE WORLD DOES ANYONE EVER KEEP THEIR HOUSE CLEAN?

I don’t know how anyone does it, period, but I really don’t know how you all cope with the mess and filth during the Christmas hoopla—I mean, holidays.

The glitz and glam make more mess, do they not? And the decorations are supposed to be up for at least several weeks, so you have to clean around all The Extra Pretty, right?

Seriously, people! Are you okay with this?

I read blogs and see magazines and all these people are doing such wonderful festive stuff and all I’m thinking about is the pine needles that are falling on the floor (and the mittens that fall in the tree’s water pan—why are there mittens in the tree’s water pan, willsomeonepleasetellme?) and that all the pretty votive candles eventually burn down and then need to be washed out before I can fill them with fresh votives but the little votive holders clutter up my sink for days because I hate washing them out and then my counter looks trashy.

So… I corral the five children in my charge—all under 10 years of age and two of them not mine—and make them work. They dust baseboards and chairs, wash dishes, desprout the potatoes, scrub sink and toilet, empty the compost, collect the trashes, all while I run around washing windows, dusting, and wiping down the stairs. It feels really good and I even call my husband to tell him he married a goddess.

But then the next day comes around and I spend the entire morning with the four children in my care—all under 12 years of ages and all of them mine—cleaning the house again. There are more windows to wash and picking up to do and organizing and vacuuming and a toilet to scrub and the kitchen floor to wash and empty canning jars to be taken to the basement and full ones to be lugged back up (and washed and shelved) and firewood to be hauled to the front porch and—

I am so sorry. This is probably boring you to tears. Heck, it’s boring me to tears. My point is: the house still feels messy and I feel defeated. All these blog-and-magazine people go waltzing through the holidays, red ribbons and twinkle lights and sanding sugar galore, and all I can think is: WHO IS CLEANING YOUR TOILETS! WHO IS DUSTING AROUND ALL THOSE KNICK-KNACKS AND WHO IS MOPPING UP THE STICKY SUGAR AND DON’T YOU EVER GET SICK OF IT AND FEEL LIKE SCREAMING?

I’m not really that shouty. I just start talking in all caps when I feel like my reality is totally different from everyone else’s. Perhaps they have better filters on and know not to talk about such boring stuff on their blogs. Perhaps they have cleaning ladies. Perhaps their houses are such screwball messes that they have to focus on the sparkly lights with uber concentration, because if they let themselves even notice the dust rhinos under the piano, the facade will crumble into a pile of dust, which is just one more thing to clean up.

Baby Jesus’ halo has fallen off and the windows are dirty, but hey, 
there’s a bouquet of poky red berries to divert the eye and boost the happy!

P.S. I don’t have an open fire in my kitchen, in case you wondered. Those pictures are from our annual visit to a local Christmas tree farm where the kids get to hunt for the hidden candy cane tree, drink hot chocolate, and pick out a free ornament. Oh, and cut down a tree, too. It’s a jolly affair.

P.P.S. I love Christmas. Seriously. It doesn’t even stress me out.

P.P.P.S. Messes stress me out.

This same time, years previous: middle-of-the-night solstice party, lemon cheesecake tassies


  • Amber

    …moping up the sticky sugar….I couldn't help but smile. And yes, I too wonder who is doing all the cleaning. Oh and about cleaning candle holders. Make it easy for yourself by putting them all in a fairly hot oven after baking, setting the timer for 5-10 minutes and when it goes off, have a handful of old tee shirt rags (or paper towels if you buy that sort of thing) handy and start wiping them out. Throw out rags when finished. Very easy.

    Merry Christmas!

  • my3ninjas

    My house is a fabulous disaster most of the time. It also might have to do with living in an old house with no closets…while homeschooling three children. I have friends who have Pottery Barn looking homes…they have a cleaning lady and are a wee bit o.c.d. And yes, I too was a bit excited when I saw the picture of the fire place. It is beautiful. After we put in closets, perhaps we'll embark on an open fireplace in our kitchen…

  • Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig

    I am SO GLAD to know that I am not the only one who feels this way about housekeeping. I am always wondering how others keep their houses tidy at all times…when my house is in a constant state of mess. Maybe becuase my house is small? And therefore always looks cluttered and messy? Maybe because I don't clean as a hobby? I always wish for a bigger home…but then I wonder, how will I keep it clean?! No…you're not the only one. I choose things in my home based on ease of keeping clean…and I'm OK with that…Merry Christmas! (ps…maybe all of those other women just keep the mess out of the lens!!)

  • KTdid

    Here's my Christmas wish: Someday a sentence such as "perhaps they have cleaning ladies" will sound strange to the ear (as though the cleaning person would never be male. Heck, the bigger Christmas wish is that a male would clean my house. Right now)


  • Anonymous

    You wash your windows? I haven't washed our windows in… I don't think I've EVER washed our windows!

    Those people's homes in magazines and blogs don't look that way all of the time – they can't! It's the same thing as comparing ourselves to female celebrities or models – it's just not realistic.

    Our house isn't uber clean but it's not a pig sty either. I'm always trying to find that balance between "clean" and "clean enough." I can't stand clutter but I also don't want to be harping on my kids all of the time about the house. A lot of the stuff you mention above (except the pine needles) is just regular, everyday cleaning stuff that never really gets done and, like you said, starts all over the next day. It's a part of life – the wonderful, full, happy, secure life that you're building for your children.

    It's definitely more difficult to keep mess at bay when you're a homeschooling mom of four. When we homeschooled our four, I used to love to watch them be so wonderfully creative but creative almost always meant mess! It was one big cycle: There were people there all day long to make messses and yet I was also in our home all day long to live in the mess. When a person goes to work each day, they can leave the mess behind and forget about it but when you're home all day, you can't forget it – it's everywhere you go.

    I do read about people who sweep/mop their floors every night; I'm lucky if we get them swept once a week! Don't get me wrong – they definitely NEED cleaned, I just don't do it.

    On a side note, I was so excited that you had that fabulous fireplace in your home – until you said that it wasn't yours! But, then again, that would be more mess, wouldn't it?! 🙂

    I hope that you have a wonderful, messy, memory-filled Christmas! Vicki

  • Anonymous

    If you put a tiny bit of water in the votive holder before the candle, it prevents the melted candle wax from sticking to it.
    Your home sounds like it is full of love and happy chaos.

  • Margo

    I cannot abide a dirty or cluttered house, so we keep the decorations REAL SPARSE so the cleaning is not hampered. In fact, my house is sparsely decorated to begin with for this very reason.

    You talk about washing windows a lot. I'm impressed. We wash every other year or so – and inbetween times I work very hard on teaching my kids not to touch windows or mirrors.

    I fished a coin purse out of the Christmas tree water pan yesterday. What the heck?!

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Limiting the decorations helps. We only put out the tree (artificial- no needles), hang stockings, hang lights, hang Christmas cards, and set out two manger scenes (so there is less fighting over who gets to play with Baby Jesus).

    Dirt/clutter is my nemesis all year long. It's good we have little elves to help us clean:-).

  • Mama Pea

    Exactly! Keeping the house clean with all that clutter (I mean Christmas decorations) out and about is impossible. Then every year when I put away my Christmas decorations, I'm abhorred (can I use that verb like that?) by how dirty and dusty my special pretties look. I should clean them before packing away. No, I'll clean them when I unpack next year. (Ha!) Even long after all the mess (I mean Christmas decorations) is cleaned up and stashed away, I vac and sweep up pine needles and tinsel for months. Thank you for putting it all in words. I've wondered for YEARS how anyone lives in all those gorgeously decorated rooms.

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