When you think about it, a whole lot of life happens in the car. The daily commute – even to the station – where the silent car hums with brain activity as you mentally transition from ‘home you’ to ‘work you’. Perhaps the car is jumping with upbeat music as you glide through uncongested early morning roads – an optimistic lightness at the start of a bright new day. Or maybe the sombre, often heated sounds of political debate fill the air as you sit in traffic (note to the reader; this can be very bad for your health!).
The school run is an interesting one – a frantic tangle of books, bags and battling traffic on the way in; toast crunched and stern voices promising to ‘leave you behind if you make us all late again tomorrow’. On the way home, a more stately pace and, for parents of teenagers, sometimes a chance to hear a little more than ‘fine’ in answer to ‘how was your day?’
Then there are the airport runs – crack of dawn, car packed to overflowing, lists being ticked and last minute three-point-turns to retrieve a crucial item; the harried last moments before a week or two of blessed peace.
The drives to the beach and a car full of sand on the homeward stretch, exhausted children flopped fast asleep in the back with the lingering scent of vinegary fish and chips in the air – and new memories made. The drives through the countryside with inexplicable amounts of mud smeared across every surface. The drive to get the Christmas tree – and of course the return journey with children hidden beneath a far-too-big tree; the spicy scent of pine filling the air and the growing sense of anticipatory joy at all the treats and treasures to come.
But I think that the drive home for Christmas is, perhaps, my favourite one of all. There’s something incredibly special about that once a year moment – a cosiness, a sense of warmth, of love and wellbeing and anticipation.
This year as we travel to family for Christmas (our own mammoth journey from north Essex to Lancashire), it’s not only the thought of how we will cope with a car jammed packed with 4 children, with brightly wrapped presents in mysterious shapes; but what conditions we will face for the journey.
In my job, I would be foolish to not think about the weather, it’s ingrained in me. It’s about being prepared for all eventualities, cold frosty starts, icy roads or even whether you end up driving in the dark, the winter car journey can throw almost anything at us.
My children, of course, will be dreaming of a white Christmas (and secretly I am too), however the white stuff can come with it’s own headaches.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, whatever the weather, it’s important to stay safe whilst driving this Christmas.
The time of year, when the roads are inevitably busy, conditions can be hazardous – whatever your journey, check your car before your travel, make sure your tyres are ok and that you have packed the de-icer just in case.
With all our car checks in place, yes we have all the kids too (no Home Alone moment for me), the excitement is growing, Chris Rea on the radio, and before long, we are pulling up at the house with lights twinkling, loved ones waiting to welcome us back – and for Christmas to finally begin.