Christmas: that magical landscape of high expectations, either to recapture the best Christmas you ever had, or to obliterate the memory of every terrible one. Usually I pass through the season under cover of knitting but this year, with the last of the viable gift knits sorted out and wrapped, I turned instead to realizing my long-held dream of Christmas In A Clean House.
(this knit wasn't a Christmas gift, though I did deliver it yesterday. seriously: I finished these socks in September and there have been tons of cold, sock-friendly days since then, and it wasn't like I live 16 hours from the person for whom I knit them. if it took me that long to deliver these socks, you can imagine how long the clutter has been building here at home, especially after last year's flood that stole a quarter of our living space and didn't get sorted out for five months.)
Here's what I learned while pursing my dream of a clutter free house, instead of posting anything here at Hugs the last few days (sorry!):
You can't keep your house clutter free. Truly, do not expect that. Transform what you can sustain for a maximum of two weeks, realistically 7-10 days, and try to tidy up the odd magazine or stray sock as you go.
To enhance the illusion that yours is not just a clutter free house but a haven suitable for even The Perfect Christmas, move the furniture. Create new and innovative, however impractical, areas for performing such Perfect Christmas tasks as watching movies while knitting, or curling up with a great book and some chocolate, or walking past a room for the sheer pleasure of seeing it look different than your normal house. If nothing else this task will force you to notice dust bunny armies and vacuum them up.
At a certain point (in my case, after 22 hours of clearing and sorting and furniture-moving and tidying) you must simply stack up everything that does not match your image of The Perfect Christmas and stick it out of sight. Accept this as strategy, not failure. And then do not go where it is for the duration of The Perfect Christmas.
Traditional cookie baking can be performed on the day you plan to have 'game night', aka 'the cookie eating frenzy conducted under pretense of game night'. In fact, it can be performed during game night. Everybody likes warm cookies. The baker gets to skip the games s/he dislikes. There are no losers.
If it's not possible to get the cookies ready before the end of 'game night', perhaps because you caught flu from somebody even after getting the flu shot and being responsible about getting as much sleep as possible given 22 hours of house tidying - ahem - traditional chocolates are a very acceptable alternative to cookies.
Also, you can repeat 'game night' for as long as the food supply holds out, in case the first few tries weren't perfect enough.
In short: prepping for Christmas is like packing for a holiday. You piece together what you think you will need for the duration of the trip, and leave all the rest behind to deal with when you get back to everyday life. It's the only way to enjoy yourself.
In other discoveries, while Pete and I were choosing and (gulp) paying for condo renovation stuff the other day the staff at the store in question offered us cookies and/or chocolate. We have lots, one said. Yeah, said another. We used to get a bottle.
And it suddenly struck me in the face of their apparent preference for Not Chocolate how nice it is to get a giant box of Turtles at Christmas, and how seldom I actually do. Except from Pete, who knows this essential truth:
The Perfect Christmas must feature an amazing book and a delicious box of Turtles.
What stuff makes up your Perfect Christmas? (and also, thanks for your patience while I did house stuff, and if I'm not back here tomorrow please send more tissues. *sneeze*.)