The Origins Of Spring-Cleaning, Or Along Came Eve
By James L. Snyder [Repost with permission]
I always know when April makes its yearly debut without consulting the calendar because my wife usually says, “Let’s clean out the garage today.” Trust me on this one, it is no April fool’s joke, but someone gets fooled. And believe me, I’m just not anybody’s fool. I’m my wife’s fool. Somehow, her “let’s” has a funny singular ring to it and we had, if I remember correctly, a double ring wedding ceremony. Hers is on her left ring finger while mine somehow ended up in my nose.
For some reason spring brings to women, wives in particular, an uncontrollable urge to clean something. It doesn’t matter what that something is, it has to be cleaned. Moreover, it does not matter how clean or dirty that something is or when it was last cleaned, it must be cleaned again. This represents a basic philosophical difference between men and women. In the beginning, man was perfectly at home with dirt, then along came Eve and introduced spring-cleaning. We have no idea how long it was between Adam and the time Eve came onto the scene, but it was long enough to get the entire Garden of Eden dirty, necessitating a thorough cleaning. Thus began the yearly ritual known as spring-cleaning.
This tradition has been handed down from mother to daughter since the beginning of time. As far as I can ascertain, no father on record has handed down to his son any way of putting a stop to this nonsense. And don’t think I’m not just a little upset about that. I think our forefathers could have found a fifth father to help come up with a workable plan to get rid of this yearly onus. But, it is spring and the time-honored ritual has come to our domestic den. Spring is in the air and spring-cleaning is on the agenda. I, on the other hand, had other plans, which did not include soap and water. So much for my plans. A husband’s plan is always subject to his wife’s rescheduling. Every year I asked the same question. How in the world does spring get so dirty? And, more important, why do I have to clean it? I didn’t mess it up. I believe Mother Nature ought to clean her own spring and not push this responsibility onto husbands like me who have better things to do with their time.
One year I got confused and cleaned my spring in the fall, which screwed up my whole winter wondering what I would do when spring actually arrived and it was already cleaned. Spring-cleaning would not be so bad if I could use my definition of clean rather than my wife’s. One man’s clean is his wife’s “when are you going to clean that?” At the least, it would be helpful if spring-cleaning only came on leap year, which would give me an opportunity to hop out of the way before my good wife could spring into action. In our house, the annual spring cleaning focuses on the garage. When my wife gets it into her head to clean the garage, I get it into my head to get clean out of her way. In the scheme of things, how important is a clean garage anyway? It’s not as if Martha Stewart is going to make a surprise visit. As a veteran husband (with the scars to prove it), I have discovered one thing in my house. Behold, a greater than Martha Stewart lives at my lodgings.
My philosophy is simply, a dirty garage is a happy garage. It just doesn’t make my wife happy and when she’s not happy neither am I — so I am willing to live with an unhappy garage. These are the compromises enabling husbands to survive generation after generation. At least, enabling this husband to survive spring-cleaning one more year. I have no idea what my garage does during the winter to get so dirty, but I wish it would stop it, or at least clean up after itself and not cause me so much grief. When the idea of spring-cleaning comes up, I take one gander at the object of the endeavor and try to duck out as quickly as possible. I usually run into my wife standing at the door and realize my goose is cooked, usually to a nice golden burnt.
My idea of cleaning the garage is opening the garage door and the back door and let nature take its course. However, when I suggest this, an ill wind blows my way, if you know what I mean. Garage cleaning invariably leads to garage sales. Garage sales are amazing. Instead of donating my worthless junk to the neighborhood dump, I sell it to my neighbors, who will put it in their garage sale next year. This keeps neighborhood junk in circulation for years, and then some antique dealer buys it and starts the whole cycle again in New York City. One man’s junk is another man’s antique.
My wife insists cleanliness is next to godliness. If that is so, why did God create so much dirt? God is also in the cleaning business and you can be sure His is the ultimate leaving nothing unclean. The Apostle Paul explains, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5 KJV.) When God says, “Let’s clean out your life today,” trust Him to do a thorough job.
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