illustration of Santa fixing a sink
Illustration: Serge Bloch
When my husband and I bought our circa-1920 home, I did a little creative visualization: As we signed away the next 30 years of our earnings, I calmed my galloping heart with thoughts of the wonderful memories we'd create in the house. The holidays—snow on the roof, wind rustling the pine trees out front, us warm inside with a fire crackling in the cozy wood-paneled living room—yup, that helped bring my blood pressure down into the subacute range.

So how, then, did last Christmas wind up like this: my husband, wrench in hand, trying to get at our misbehaving garbage disposer while I did my best to body-block him? A clog had developed in the disposer's digestive system, rendering it useless—and the sink full of greasy water showed no signs of draining before the New Year. Meanwhile, our uneasy dinner guests got an earful as I lobbied to call Roto-Rooter while my husband went to fetch his toolbox. So much for peace and goodwill at our house.

The timing may have been especially bad, but this is a battle we wage whenever a household repair looms or something mechanical conks out. I pull out the Yellow Pages, tuck myself into a corner of the kitchen, and begin to look up A...A-P...A-P-P...and almost make it to "Appliance Repair" when my husband enters. Busted! He asks what I'm doing, and I confess that I'm calling in reinforcements. And that's not an action plan he's likely to support.
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