Money Shot

Are you ready to see the money shot?”

Every year, at Thanksgiving we start our “prep list” for our annual holiday party at our home. It’s a highlight of the year for us and an opportunity to spend an evening with some of our work family, their families, kiddos and other friends. We just hosted that event his past Saturday. It was so fun! We had food, holiday treats, gifts, music, and laughs! Of course, I even provided a few tours to see my garage collection of tech hacks, projects, Powerwalls and gadgets.

For any of you who host parties, you know they can be a lot of work. Your prep list is full of food and drinks to buy, cooking, arranging, planning and of course, cleaning. That last bit can vary quite a bit. Even if you have a regular schedule of keeping things maintained, there are still those items you postpone, like the deep cleaning part, until there is a good motivation. Well, hosting a party is a good motivation. One of the things we identified this year that needed some special treatment was our area rugs. We have tile floor throughout the house but we have large area rugs in the living rooms. They can get dirty. Very dirty! We needed to either replace or clean them. My wife found a professional cleaner that would be able to accommodate our schedule. 

The carpet cleaner showed up with special chemicals and equipment. After he treated the rug, he pulled in this large hose and vacuum tool and said, “Are you ready to see the money shot?” We looked at the rug and it already looked better. The colors that had faded were already showing again. But then it happened. He turned on the machine and began pulling the vacuum head across one side of the rug. It was mind blowing! The white border of the rug exploded with colorful and vibrant brilliance. The rest of the rug we thought was clean suddenly looked dingy, gray and soiled in comparison to the strip he had just cleaned. We were stunned! He laughed. He then told us that people love to see that. In fact, he informed us, you can spend hours on social media watching people clean their rugs this same way. I couldn’t believe it so I checked it out for myself. There are tens of thousands of hours of rug cleaning videos out there! I kid you not! And I must admit, they are addictive, soothing and somehow satisfying. 

Why is that? It turns out that there is a lot of research on this type of thing. We find a sense of optimism, peace, clarity and control when we watch things go from dirty to clean, chaos to order. In reflection, I find the same with my own efforts around cleaning. In preparation for our party, we declutter, wash, arrange and decorate. I confess that the ramp to begin that process isn’t easy and my procrastination skills kick into overdrive, but once I’m past that the effort is oddly satisfying, refreshing and enjoyable. Now, don’t get me wrong, my garage is still 100% chaos and needs some treatment, but containerizing and treating chaos in an agile fashion is a topic for another email. 

For today, as we parade into this holiday season, I’m reminded of the joy of cleaning. We all need a bit of housekeeping from time to time. Life is dusty. Spider webs settle in the crevices of our hearts, our minds and our homes. Seeing the “money shot” of things in your life go from dirty to clean is an enjoyable experience, healthy and encouraging. Pull out the special cleaner, scrubber and brush and go to work. Trust me, it is true! Try it. Go clean something and report back. I’ll wait. 

Holiday Hugs

“I like warm hugs.” — Olaf, Frozen

I love getting holiday greeting cards! Our first cards started showing up last week. Most of the time, I dread going through the mail. You can probably relate. Mail these days is littered with extended home warranties, credit card offers and advertisements. But this time of year, envelopes of love wrapped up in memories, reflections and joy arrive nearly on a daily basis. Friends, family and dear acquaintances from long ago reconnect across time and space with a card, an address and a stamp. Those tiny bundles of care soared across oceans, over lands, across snow-capped mountains, rivers and valleys, finally arriving at our home like a warm hug. You all know me by now. I get nostalgic and emotional about all these wonderful tiny human touches. They remind us that we are all related, connected, remembered and loved. They are small things but they mean so much.

At this point, we send out so many Christmas cards that we have to pick up postage by the hundreds. But every card is special. I love spending time with each card, each envelope, thinking about each person and family that will receive it. Memories fold into every envelope. Concern, love and hopeful wishes accompany every stamp placed. Off they go, on their journey to the objects of our fondness and the precious hearts of our human kin.

This time of year can be busy. The lists are non-stop. Shopping, planning, mailing, volunteering, cleaning, hanging, cooking, and traveling… all those activities spin up in our lives and can even overwhelm us. I have to remind myself to add to that list, pausing, resting, remembering, reflecting and loving. We are surrounded by so much beauty, so many precious connections with people, moments of joy and instants of delight. But they are fleeting. Don’t let them soar away without your attention. Snuggle up next to them. Wrap your mind around their splendor. Soak in every connection, every person you encounter and every moment you experience. We won’t walk this way again. Tomorrow is coming and it will be glorious, but don’t miss the chance to savor today. Treasure your loved ones and every moment you have with them now and throughout this holiday season.

May this season bring you love, joy, peace and warm holiday hugs!