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Eileen Tides

Christmas Cleaning Concerns

December 13, 2012

Dear Eileen:

I’m trying to get into the festive spirit, but I just don’t have the time or energy to clean the house for guests this year. What should I do?

Pooped but Merry

Dear Pooped but Merry,

Do not let your friends mess around with your self-esteem. I subscribe to the housekeeping philosophy of British eccentric Quentin Crisp, who once said, ‘What’s all the fuss about house cleaning? After four years, the dirt quits building up anyway.’

Truly, if your friends can’t wade through the mess in your hallway and clear a little spot for themselves on your couch, they’re not really friends, are they? After all, they’re coming to spend time with you, not give your house the white glove test. (Dusting? What’s dusting?—save that for your mother-in-law’s annual visit.)

Be self-assured. Ask your guests to be careful not to disturb your on-the-floor filing system. Tell them that you have a mission—that you’re an artist/activist/bohemian, and that you’re too busy to interrupt it for Christmas—except for special friends, of course. This will make your guests feel privileged to visit your mess.

If your self-esteem is not quite there yet, here are some interim tips. Invite your guests at night and use only subdued lighting. Or better yet, candles. Tell them it creates atmosphere. It does—and your mess will be totally invisible. Besides, candlelight is environmentally friendly and brings back that Tasha Tudor Victorian Christmas feeling.

Christmas requires the creative spirit. Remember that you will only have to decorate around the lamp and candles. Or if you like, take pride in decorating the whole house by simply spreading some tinsel around on the mess. After all, one person’s mess is another person’s artistic creation.

The bathroom is more of a problem. One option is to say the toilet is plugged, all the plumbers are off for the holiday, but you couldn’t not invite your friends. This will cut down the duration of their visit and save on drinks, too. (Beware, this excuse won’t work every year.)

Finally, un-smarten up. You’re an Island person, aren’t you? Be proud of your mess. Don’t let those citified-sterile-spick-and-span-house-beautifully, boring ideas get to you. Anyhow, who ever heard of making merry without making a mess?

Have a messy Christmas!

Yours truly, Eileen Tides

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