And that means cleaning.
Not just cleaning.
As in everything.
Everything as in all three bathrooms - including the medicine cabinets (you know people open your medicine cabinets), all the mold and mildew in the shower (you know they look at that too - I don't know why, but they do), the toilets (including under the lid - a place the boys in my life should understand some people will see), behind the toilets and the pedestal sinks (ugh!.. my very least favorite - it's where all the dog hair not only gathers but somehow congeals), and the ritual placing of the fake towels (you know the ones - the ones no one in the family ever uses so they'll look nice for company - and the "company" thinks they are also too nice to use and so they sneakily wipe their hands on the shower curtain).
Everything as in moving all the furniture when you vacuum because someone might actually change the position of something and discover what's lurking under there much of the year.
Everything as in all the doors and door frames and light switches and kitchen cabinet knobs that apparently have not been cleaned since last Christmas. It's amazing how much grime builds up in these places without me noticing it. When I suddenly become aware of it about, oh.. Dec 6th, I am stunned at its obviousness and our slovenliness. For a brief moment, I worry that this grime will have been obvious to any and all other guests we may have had throughout the course of the year. Then, like the blissful forgetfulness that follows labor pains, I put it out of my mind until next December.
Everything as in the stovetop (never, I repeat never get a black enamel rangetop - shows every last water spot and grease speck) and the oven door and the dishwasher door (goddamned stainless steel).
And, finally.... everything as in the inside of the fridge. Yes the inside of the fridge. Because not only is this the time of year for many guests, it's the time of year for many guests to help you. They will be in the kitchen helping get food on the table and fetching things in and out of the fridge for you and JUDGING YOU.
Which brings me to why I need a new fridge. Because not only is my fridge of an unknown age (it came with the house 12 years ago and it was probably at least 15 years old then), my fridge is frightening. Frightening because it makes a variety of unsettling noises - hisses and pops and growls and grumblings - it's like something out of the Shining. When I open the door, I expect to hear "Redrum!" or else see those animal things from the fridge in Ghostbuters. And frightening because of all the death it contains. Dead soup, dead bowls of spagetti, dead half eaten yogurts, dead jars of crystalized jam, dead chinese food, and dead produce.
Now the produce is in a different category of death. Most of the dead items in my fridge consist of optimistically placed leftovers. (You'd think after 24 years John and I would know which types of leftovers will actually get eaten and which ones are doomed to become a ritualistic sacrifice to the refrigerator gods. Yet we continue to put all supper leftovers in there blithely assuming they'll turn into lunches.) These I at least have no problem eventually throwing away - they never taste as good as when they were new anyway and they grow fascinating varieties of mold. But the produce represents a bigger failure. The produce represents a quest for healthy eating. Salads never made, vegetables never served for dinner, oranges that, while they looked juicy at the store, have turned out to be little rind covered balls of sawdust.
I try, I really do. Every trip to the grocery store I buy all these healthy fresh foods with every intention of consuming every bit of them. So where does it all break down? Why are these foods not getting eaten? It's not that we are junk food junkies - we love to cook and these are foods we actually like to eat.
No, the fault lies with my fridge and the produce drawer of death. My theory is that it is all the fault of the design of my "freezer on top - fridge on the bottom" refrigerator. First of all there are two produce drawers - one that says "moist cold" and one that says "vegetables and fruit" and the fact that I cannot for the life of me figure out what is supposed to go into the "moist cold" one if it isn't vegetables and fruit. Second is the fact that the drawers are tinted like sunglasses and you cannot see what is in them without opening them. This, of course, means that, unless you open them constantly, stuff is pretty sure to be going bad in there. Thirdly, and here is where we get to the new fridge part, the produce drawers are all the way at the bottom of the fridge. I practically have to get down on my hands and knees to even get access to them. Talk about out of sight out of mind. So what I need is... drumroll please... one of those new refrigerators that has the freezer on the bottom and the fridge on the top with the lovely french doors and the produce drawers right smack dab at eye level. With clear plastic that I can see through to boot.
I am absolutely, stupendously sure that this will solve all of my fridge death problems and we will eat healthy evermore. And, I won't have to clean the fridge this year for company :-)
Are you listening, John?