New home’s tour reveals a new approach to clutter

It was a loving thing to say.

We were nibbling on a few appetizers before we began the tour of their new home.

“She may not show you her office,” my friend’s husband warned me. “She still has some clearing out to do.”

“Oh, is it a mess?” I asked. We’ve been friends 25- years, so I’d earned the right to be direct.

“I’d love to see another messy office,” I teased. “Mine is always a disaster.”

And we both chuckled.

“You know,” he began, “It’s not really her fault. She just has so many interests.”

The good-hearted soul went on, listing his wife’s hobbies, activities and commitments while my mind was still stuck on his perfect explanation.

She wasn’t messy or disorganized; she just had many interests.

What a thoughtful turn of phrase. And I smiled from the inside out.

As I listened to this man defend his wife’s clutter, I was struck by his love — and insight. His words revealed a tender recognition of his wife’s personality, her passion for more than one interest, and her resolve to pursue it — now, or in the future while the piles waited patiently for a renewed burst of focus.

He chose to look at his wife’s negative as a positive.

Love doesn’t come much purer than that.

My father called it, “loving someone, warts and all.”

As a minister for 46 years, he performed hundreds of marriage ceremonies, often counseling the newlyweds on this topic. But the real teaching was in our home by the way he cherished his wife, daily and deliberately, accentuating the positive whenever possible.

As I looked around my office, my piles indeed represented important interests — family, hobbies, activities and causes. Some stacks were stashed in quilted knapsacks hanging on hooks, ready to accompany me on my next outing while large wicker bins housed the more sprawling interests of writing, photography, cooking and crafts.

I felt relieved, almost enlightened, with this new insight into my behavior as if a shrink had helped me push through a new threshold of self-discovery. How comforting to finally have a refined diagnosis.

I am not messy; I just have many interests. I don’t have stacks of clutter. I have piles of interests.

I had found a new angle for my life-long affliction.

And just in time for the holiday season, where this particular affliction can come in handy since our interests reveal who we are and what is important to us.

Who needs wish lists when there are piles of interest scattered about just waiting to be enhanced with the latest and greatest from those who love us.

As we move into this holiday season, may your holidays be filled with wonder, joy, and piles of interests — old and new.

And may the people you love, cherish you … warts and all.

This column was originally published as part of my “From Where I Sit” series at in Towson Times.