I like the uncluttered feeling of holidays. There is no housework to do, no phone to answer, nothing pressing that needs attending to. And I am most keenly aware of the lack of clutter as I survey the holiday kitchen bench. Holiday kitchen benches are always bare.
And it's usually as I prepare meals on holidays that I resolve to return to normal life and simplify. On holidays we have less props (toys, computers, books) and yet we have a great time. On holidays we eat much more simply ("No, I didn't bring the soy sauce for your rice!") and yet we eat well. And on holidays I seem to enjoy food preparation so much more than I generally do at home (despite the crazy assortment of utensils, odd saucepans and blunt knives that seem to haunt holiday kitchens) and I am sure that the clear, clean benches have something to do with that.
So I come home and clear the bench. After about twelve minutes the first thing is dumped on my newly cleared surface and I groan inwardly (or outwardly!) And then I remember. I say I like food preparation on holidays so much more but the thing is, I have done most of the preparing at home and it is just a matter of cooking up some rice/pasta/potatoes and heating up the curry/bolognese sauce/stew and throwing a salad together. I'm not actually cooking.
And the thing about the kitchen bench at home is, well, if it was left bare, where would you put all the mail, library books due back tomorrow, newsletters (of the school and church varieties), those little bits of broken toys that you promised you'd superglue back together, the keys, the various items of stationery that get used every day, bills to pay...?
Sometimes I despair of my kitchen bench. But mostly it's OK because the kitchen bench is the nerve centre of the house. Holiday kitchen benches are uncluttered. And holidays are uncluttered. And that is great. Normal life is full and busy. The kitchen bench at my house is also full and busy. And that is great.
And it's great to enjoy the contrast between the two.