If we invite you to our home and you take us up on it, I just want to point out a couple things.

You may think, for example, that since our garbage cans are empty, that we just emptied them out right before you came, in order to, I don’t know, make our bathroom (or whatever room) look more tidy or something. No, this is not the case. We happen to have a family of 9 people who don’t create any garbage. We’re just weird that way.

Or you might notice that our carpeting has slight stripes in the way the threads are lying and conclude that we just vacuumed that afternoon. But no, that’s merely the way the manufacturer made them. We ordered them pre-striped.

Or you might be surprised that a family with seven kids doesn’t have toys out and scattered around the house. Well, I can understand your astonishment, because I could see how that could happen. But our kids have just learned to clean up their toys and artwork and books right after they use them, um, every . . . every single time, so it’s been months, no . . . years since I’ve seen any kid messes. We just naturally have a clutter free home. Really, it took no effort on our part.

I see that you’ve noticed the lack of dirt or grime in the kitchen. Yes, isn’t that something? No, we didn’t just clean and scrub the sink and stove up in hurried fashion right as you were on your way over. We just never spill. Anything. No, not scrambled eggs. No, not pancake syrup. It’s like an oddity of nature. A miracle, if you will.

But if, however, you happen to come over unannounced (and we hope you will), and find that some or all of these things aren’t true, that there are messy corners or even whole rooms of our home, then this is what happened: We have probably just been entertaining another family, one that isn’t so supernaturally mess-free. And we probably aren’t mentioning this to you, because we don’t want to bring shame on them.

It’s not necessarily a sin to create messes, after all.

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