Which would you rather live in, a home or a museum? A home is a place where people eat, and sleep, and learn and make mistakes. In short, it is where people live. A museum is a place where everything is set and placed in rigid, unchanging order. Everything is on display, and so must constantly be kept spotlessly clean.

Homes are not museums. In homes, especially homes with children in them, disorder is the order of the day. Books are simply set aside, and not necessarily put precisely and perfectly aligned back on bookshelves. Sinks get water spots, floors may go unvacuumed for a week or more, and a small scrap of paper on the floor is not an ecological disaster.

Museums are to look at, and homes are to live in. I cannot stress that enough.

If you are zealously dedicated to keeping your home as spotless, uncluttered and organized as a museum, you probably won’t have much time left to do anything else. And even if you find the time to do something unrelated to home (museum?) maintenance, you’ll worry that you’ll make a mess while doing it, and it must be cleaned up right away. Cleaning up the mess will then be more important than whatever else you are doing.

What do people do in museums, other than walk around, look at things and visit the gift shop, and then leave? Homes are to stay in.

In museums, people watch documentary programs on exhibits’ TV screens. If your home is like a museum, the only safe thing to do is to watch TV all the time, which won’t make any physical mess, but maybe a mental mess in your brain.

People who spend too much time sorting, organizing and categorizing, never seem to find time to do anything with the stuff they’ve sorted, organized, and categorized. They’re too tired out. So they lie on the couch and watch TV.

When everything is cleaned and neatly put away, it seems such a shame to ruin the effect by disturbing the balance of this self-ordered universe. God forbid you should pull some of this stuff out and actually do something with it. That would create a mess, which would again have to be sorted, organized, categorized, and then be put back into its proper place.

In fact, it would be far less trouble to never pull out this stuff and use it, so why bother? Just let it all lay unused. Then you can decide to chuck it all away, because you never use it. Problem solved!

Doing nothing is no sort of life to live. Now, I have seen homes whose rooms and furniture were “relaxed,” not afraid of a little disorder here and there. My old boyhood home on Morton Avenue was one of these places, and we firmly believed in the “lived in” look. With up to seven children living in the house, what else could be expected?

Sure, sometimes the rooms would be tidied and cleaned, and a semblance of order brought to bear, at least once in awhile, maybe around holidays. But nobody was obsessed about it.

If you’ve ever tried to keep a house clean with children living in it, you know what I mean. Trying to keep all the rooms “museum clean” would’ve driven my mother to gibbering insanity. So she cleaned when she could and didn’t fret about the small stuff, like fingerprints on the fridge or loose socks on the floor. Things that would throw a neat freak into high horror.

I have seen homes of the “plastic covers on the furniture” kind, where the owners were deathly afraid of spills and dirt. These people, in my opinion, didn’t own the furniture; they were only renting it for eventual resale. This isn’t a home, it’s a furniture showroom. The only things missing were the price tags.

I know a person who thought that even a few books and pieces of paper on the floor turned the room into a “pigsty,” even though this person probably never even saw a pigsty in his life. This was pure overreaction and exaggeration. But “pigsty” was such a nice, disgusting, descriptive word that it just had to be used, even if it wasn’t accurate.

Then there was the lady who abhorred “clutter,” spoke against it and even made sure something would be done about it. At least, in public, in the outside world. However, visitors to where she lived often wondered when she would tackle this problem in her own home.

I admit that I am not a clean freak. I have books, documents, papers, historical artifacts, two big comfortable old couches and a plushy red writing chair, and it all looks most “Bohemia.” But I guess that’s more or less expected of an author. But my kitchen sink, stove, refrigerator and bathroom are kept clean, and I haven’t suffered any illnesses and diseases from contact with them yet. I sweep, mop and sometimes wax the kitchen floor. For a while after, I can even eat off it. But I still prefer dishes.

Lastly, let me say this, that there can be some mighty nice people living in homes, but there can be crabby ones, too. The same goes for “museums.” There are some friendly, good people living in those, too, as well as the crabby sticklers. In the end, never judge persons solely by the state of their homes, but by the kindness of their hearts.