Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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December 11, 2012

Lighting up the holidays

Had you driven past my house one recent Friday, you would have seen a workman on the roof, stringing Christmas lights. For reasons of safety and schedule, I decided to let someone else do the job this year.

But had you driven past my house the day after, you would have seen me up there re-doing the job.

So much for safety and schedule.

I blame my mother. Or, actually, her entire family. I was engaged in a practice I call "McKenzie-ing" the job - that is, allowing someone else to do it and then going back and doing it over again to get it right. Even if nothing much is wrong with it.

And all in spite of the fact that the workman was sent to the job with explicit instructions, written on yellow legal paper, with visual aids including charts, graphs, and photos, along with numerous verbal hints called up from the sidewalk. That's also very McKenzie, by the way.

Now, please understand, I am not proud of this. In going all McKenzie on the job, I violated a very solemn promise I made to myself almost daily during kidhood: I am not going to be like my mother when I grow up.

My brother and sisters made the same promise. Not one of us could run a vacuum cleaner to her satisfaction. Neither could we dust, do dishes, wash windows, or take out trash to her specifications. I never weeded a row in the garden that did not cause my mother to throw her hands up into the air, exclaim that I hadn't paid attention AGAIN, take over the chore, and launch into her speech about doing things right with its legendary opening line, "I have TOLD you and TOLD you ..."

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