I Never Vacuum Without Thinking Of My Aunt
2023/08/30

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I loved , so much so that it outweighs my love of the creak of original wood floors. Almost. The first apartment my husband and I shared in our newlywed days was 800-square feet of cheap (but new!) carpet in a shade probably called Sand Dune or something similarly expected. I every single day. It felt like we were playing house, and I reveled in it. But I also experienced something more with each pass of the vacuum. 

My childhood was one that was surrounded with cousins, aunts, and uncles. With my dad one of six and my mom one of eight, I never knew a quiet holiday. While a portion of our family was in the northeast, the masses were in Florida, all within an arm’s reach. As such, we constantly begged for cousin sleepovers, no matter how recently the last one went down. I would know we hit the jackpot when our bags were packed for a sleepover at one aunt’s house in particular.  

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For starters, she had great snacks—never a get-together without a pig in a blanket—and the best board games. But for me one of the main draws was her morning vacuuming ritual. Bright and early, as soon as the house was dusting off their sleep, she would zip through the halls, tidying the rooms and leaving a wake of vacuum lines and potpourri spray in her wake. I’ve heard it said a thousand times that starting your morning by making your bed will set the tone for the rest of the day, and I firmly believe that’s true, but this was next level. Setting your day up with a full house clean in 15 minutes is priming for Dolly Parton-level productivity. 

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Her gusto was certainly to be admired, but what I think has stuck with me all this time is that little selfless gesture of getting up just a few minutes before everyone else to help make their transition into daylight just a bit more pleasant. It seemed to me, an outside observer, that the first thing she did each day wasn’t so much about setting her day up for success, but thinking about how she could do that for her family.  

I can happily say, 11 years into our marriage, vacuuming isn’t necessarily a daily ritual, but starting my day by finding little ways to make my family’s day a little brighter certainly is, and I have my aunt to thank for that. I’m typically not able to get up-and-at-em quite like she has always done, but I’m getting there. For now, I’m grateful that when I carry my friends, family, and loved ones with me, even the most mundane of tasks can suddenly become a moment of gratitude—and a life lesson found in the most unexpected place.

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