Ah, the holidays. A time for friends, food, gifts and … houseguests from hell.
They say you will keep attracting the same people and situations into your life until you have learned the lessons they bring. Well, for the past three years, I have been attracting a family of four very messy people for Christmas.
These folks love going home for the holidays – my home.
Their main purpose in life seems to be to clutter up my space, eat me out of house and home and lead me into the comforting arms of the worm at the bottom of the Cuervo bottle.
OK, I admit it. I love a clean, clutter-free house. But even the world’s greatest pack rat would swear off cheese if he scampered into a room where these people had been. For one week each December, my home in Miramar, Florida is transformed into the Messy Muddle in Miramar.
To make things even jollier, I’m a Gemini. According to my astrological sign, I have a split personality. Now, for the most part, I’m sweet, loving and cordial. But one yank on my chain too many and I start to resemble the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.
When this sudden shift in my persona occurs, I say my evil twin is coming out to play. You should also know that I’m a tad bit passive aggressive. I may not say anything to you, but one look in your direction and you know exactly what I’m trying to tell you.
So, when my houseguests do something kind and jovial – like say use the decorative Christmas towels to wipe leftover chicken parts off the kitchen counter – I smile, open the cabinet under the sink (gently enough to rip off the doors) and slam a roll of paper towels on the counter while shooting death daggers from my eyes in every which way.
And speaking of towels, my friends have a lovely habit of throwing used bath towels on the floor so the virtual maid (who looks a lot like me) can pick them up, wash them and deliver them neatly folded back into their kingdom of clutter.
Their favorite game is ‘let’s leave the garage door open so the dog can run away and we can watch our hosts chase her down the block.’
“You’re so mean to our friends,” my partner says to me year after year.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” I respond.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why do I keep inviting these people to my home if they’re such a problem? See, that’s the thing. I don’t. They invite themselves. And by the time I’m done making subtle excuses as to why they shouldn’t visit, their flight is landing at Miami International Airport.
This year, as I counted down the days until their arrival, the thought that you attract the same people into your life until you accept the gift their lessons have to bring kept popping into my mind. So, I decided that once and for all, I was going to open whatever gift these people were offering me and re-gift it to someone else next year.
And that’s when my houseguests changed. In reality, however, they were still the same as they’d been in the past. Within the first hour after they arrived, my garage door got stuck, the toilet in the guest bedroom wouldn’t flush and the baby Jesus in my Christmas manger had a look of horror on his face after he was knocked off the table where I had set up the stable.
But for some reason, it no longer seemed so bad.
Instead of expecting them to change, I had changed my attitude toward them. And that shift in attitude allowed me to open the gift they’d been offering me all these years … acceptance.
And so, now that I’ve learned the lesson they’ve been trying to teach me, next year they get to teach it to someone else.
But just in case, I won’t be checking my e-mail from Nov. till January.