Cleaning Up, Clearing Out

We are renting our condo in Key Largo next year for three months, so, in the midst of Holiday preparations, we’ve also been getting our condo ready to rent. This gives us the opportunity to look at our condo with fresh eyes and see it as a renter would see.

As such, we’ve gotten a new washer and dryer. Yes, we finally were able to get it up the spiral staircase. I should say the Maintenance Men in our condo- Ray and Luis- were able to get it up, as well as get the washer down the stairs. Zeke waited around all day on a Friday for the Plumber, Appliance person and Electrician to hook everything up. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get a Washer/Dryer in my life!

But things that we normally ignore- the white carpet that has turned a spotty beige, the garbage can with unidentified smudges, the shed with dirt and spiders lurking in every corner- are being cleaned in preparation for our renters. Also the rusty front door frame, worn furniture and shed door are all getting a fresh coat of paint. We replaced batteries in the Smoke Alarm and doorbell, so our tenants will know if there’s a fire or they have a visitor.

I’ve also realized I have four white towels, but they don’t match, so I’ll make a Home Goods run to replace them and also get brand new sponges, because ours are disgusting, growing something that’s not Christmas cheer. Our stove and oven are ancient- from the 90’s- so Zeke ordered a new one. It was supposed to be in December 9th, now they’re saying January 3rd. We’ll see. I gave the tenants the option of using the old one or getting the new one. They opted for new.

Many religions and cultures have traditions centering on cleaning out spaces. In the Jewish religion, Spring Cleaning takes place before Passover, to make sure all yeast bread and products are removed from the house. Kind of like ridding your pantry of junk food before a diet.

In the Chinese Culture, the house must be cleaned thoroughly before the Lunar New Year begins. Families undertake a total home purge, making sure every nook and cranny is scrubbed, the house is organized and everything spotless. This is to sweep out bad luck from the last year and prepare for the good things coming in the new year.

At my friend Martha’s house, where we often celebrate New Year’s Eve, she makes sure to get a pot of water and throw it out the front door before midnight. She’s Cuban and this is a tradition, apparently to get rid of the bad juju in the house.

In the Keys, I will also go through all the food in my pantry, my spices and all the drawers and give them a thorough cleaning, throwing things out along the way that need to go and packing away items (like booze and photos) that I don’t want to leave for our renters. Although it’s kind of a pain having to deal with this cleaning in the middle of the Christmas Holidays, it also feels like a good time to do it, at the end of the year, before a new year begins. Out with the old and in with the new, as they say.

Besides that, I’ve been going to lots of Lunches, Holiday Parties and eating rich and delicious food. I finally decorated the Christmas tree! Even though Zeke said it looks awful, I think it looks cheerful with the red bows I hung. I don’t have the energy or the inclination to drag out every Christmas ornament I own and hang it on the tree. I’m also trying to decorate the house in a Kid-Friendly way, anticipating two toddlers- Liam and Phoenix- coming over for Christmas Eve dinner.

On T.V., we’re watching the last season of The Crown. Once again, they’ve changed the whole cast, something I’ve gotten used to by now. And I started streaming White Lotus on HBO Max, after hearing so much about it. The 1st Season takes place in Hawaii and they shot at the Four Seasons, right next to the hotel where we stayed for our Honeymoon. The White Lotus isn’t at all Christmassy, but it is good.

And I’m trying to take a deep breathe, to relax and enjoy the merriment the Holidays offer, and not get swept up in the shopping frenzy, craziness and stress. My favorite thing to do is have a glass of wine with Zeke, in front of our Christmas tree and listen to Christmas music. I hope you find the thing that makes you happy during the Holiday, and do it as much as you can. Before you know it, it will all be over and we’ll be welcoming 2023.

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Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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