Our family has a sacred, time-honored tradition: before company arrives, we quickly scoop up piles of mail, catalogs, library books, sunglasses, keys, the dog's leash and anything else that has been peacefully parked on the dining room table, and shove it as neatly as we can over into the kitchen, where it gobbles up a corner of the kitchen table. Fine, half the kitchen table, if you really must know. Sometimes, the piles of stuff mysteriously grow overnight-we have no idea how this happens— and we throw the spillover into one of the bedrooms and then shut the door. Yet this hallowed tradition is under assault from the chattering classes of clutter control. These nattering nabobs of neatness have declared January "Get Organized Month," a proclamation that has shareholders of Rubbermaid and Rolodex singing in the Hallelluyah choir.

This timing is cruel. January is already the month where we are expected to drag ourselves to the treadmill four times a week, proving that we have not yet wasted the money on our newly minted gym memberships. Apparently, the nation's filing fetishists wish to compound our guilt like interest on a credit card by insisting that we not only lose weight from around our hips, but also liberate our family rooms, closets and garages from all their flotsam and jetsam.

Professional organizers guilt-trip you into hiring them by asking, "Would you like to buy some new clothes, but can't open your jammed closet door?" They ask this as if it's a bad thing. Then they woo you with psuedo-profundities, such as "Clutter is the stuff that we move away to find what we want." Well, duh! If everything was exactly where we thought it was, wouldn't life become unutterably boring? The uber-organized among us, who have just the right place for every receipt, variety of wrapping paper, and even those itty-bitty screwdrivers meant to tighten your glasses, never experience the thrill of unexpected discovery. Last week, while searching for a client's phone number that I had carefully written on the back of a bank receipt, I found one of my kid's school reports on apes. The report was a few years old, and I had no idea how it landed on my desk, but there  it was: a special "Aha!" moment. Lewis and Clark didn't make this many discoveries when they crossed the Mississippi river as I do every week at home. I sweep away a bunch of papers, looking for a file, and voila! I am reunited with the earring that had gone missing weeks earlier. How tragic that professional organizers so rarely enjoy these thrilling moments.

Now don't misunderstand: I am not one of those mess apologists who wax romantic about disorganization. These folks match the chaos controllers pseuo-profundity for pseudo-profundity. "Mess can vibrate beyond its own confines and connect to the larger world," claims one advocate of material anarchy. Oh, please.

I'd like to pretend that my cluttered desk reveals my brilliantly creative mind, but the truth is that all it reveals is my antipathy toward anything resembling housework. I only flatter myself that a desk spilling over with loads of file folders and scraps of paper (each of which contains important information), suggests genius.

I once bought into the whole neatness idea, and hired a professional organizer to help me. Even though it was years ago, I still carry the shame of having her, impeccably well dressed and threatening me with color-coded filing labels, surveying the wreckage that is my home office. Once the desk was clean, my organizer left in triumph. I found the landscape eerily lonely. An hour after she left, I defiantly flung some papers around just to get my creative juices flowing again.

Besides, being overly neat can be selfish. Scientist Alexander Fleming would never have discovered penicillin had he not forgotten to clean out a petri dish, left moldering away on his desk. I can't bear to think how many potentially life-saving medicines I, personally, have denied the world because I decided to throw out some pasta artifacts with fascinating new life forms growing on it instead of turning it over to the National Institutes of Health.

Take it from me: you can plunk down hundreds, even thousands of dollars on organizing systems, but for my money, the most effective organizing supplies are free and nearby. These include the floor, closets, and under the beds (though if you want to feel better about this, you can buy sliding large cardboard drawers that fit underneath). Things that are not helpful are copies of "Real Simple" magazine, which show you how to have a home that looks antiseptically organized- if you go for that look.

So count me out, all you protectors of the Pendaflex. My messy desk may not prove conclusively that I have a creative mind, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.