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Clyde, Time Was: We knew how to make a mess, even of Christmas

Time was, we were messy.

We piled our dirty clothes on the floor and used a bedpost, hook or a doorknob when we wanted to hang it up. We didn’t mind making a mess; it was the cleanup we procrastinated on. Usually, not until we were accused of making the “biggest mess you have ever seen.” Who’s counting and who is the judge? Who made up the threat: ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’? Some nun who didn’t have a cat.

Job 14:4: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” Don’t bother to clean up, it’s just going to get dirty gain. Whoever invented clothes hangers and coat racks must have had a fastidious mother. Who uses that little loop on the back of a shirt, anyway?

In 1596, they first called it squalor. Before that, they didn’t care or know how they lived. Today, 7.2 billion earthlings don’t worry about tidying up. That could make for a “royal mess.” The phrase “as messy as a hoorahs nest” did not come from the Horahs the street was named after; they were silversmiths and bankers.

When did we give up neckties, dress hats, handkerchiefs, starched collars and gloves for every occasion? Sweat pants, tube socks, tank tops and pull-over hoodies are not the new dapper. You have to make a mess for it to look good, the bigger the mess, the better the result. Messy outfits are the best. Creativity thrives on being able to relax and throw things around.

Of course, there are no famous women artists in history, they were too busy running around cleaning up with Handi-wipes and paper towels.

A drop cloth is all you need. Decorators make beauty out of havoc.

Christmas decorations are about as messy as you can get. By the tine you get those lights untangled, you could have bought a new string. Who keeps that little plastic bag of extra blinkin’ spares and fuses? All those twist ties and plastic cincher strips should be used on telemarketers’ mouths. All that pink tinsel, plastic balls and keepsake ornaments, fake snow, made in China toboggans and cutesy signs cannot become the real meaning of Christmas with the tap of a peppermint stick. It comes from inside you and it must be learned. “Renew a clean heart within me, O God.”

What do you think Chinese factory workers say about those creche figures they stamp out?

From the Latin, missus, a course at a meal, we get a mess for a mixture of food cooked or eaten together. When we set it all out at one time, it’s called a “mess hall.” Anyone who has ever washed a cloth diaper by hand knows full-well the picture of messy britches. How are mothers rewarded for the dirt they went through? Margaret says Bird’s Eye brand is best. Underwear can get messy. “Out, out damned spot.” Sorry, Will.

Good cooks can make a big mess. It follows, there are messy eaters, too. They say you need germs to build up your immunity. Ever see a sick pig? Kids still live by the 3-second rule. Neat freaks and O.C.D. Yankees are about as obnoxious as trashy people, if you have to live with one. Don’t go to a pig pickin’ or an oyster shuckin’. Why use a napkin if a shirtsleeve will do?

Can we be cured of our messy ways?

Messing around has been around since time started and takes a lot of cleaning up without leaving stains. People can be messed up on drugs. Their minds quickly become confused, make an error of their lives and, given another chance, want to get messed up again and again.

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, but if the course be departed from. the ends will change,” said Scrooge, who had a hard time with his addiction. He had help to show him the mess he had made of his life and he saw the light from Christmas past.

Matthew 23:25: “Woe to you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For  ye make clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they are all full of extortion and excess.”

Keep it clean and simple. More trash does not mean you had the best Christmas ever. Say it with homemade food gifts, cards, ornaments, art or thoughts. The $6 billion spent on Xmas decorations each year does not hold a candle to the value of a true gift. And next time you cook a mess of greens and cornbread, don’t get it on your shirt or the floor.

“You made a mess, you clean it up.”

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.

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