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Christmas Shopping

"How Did you do That?

Driving back in the 80’s was a very comfortable experience when our huge automobiles with push button assist was new. A button on the steering wheel to turn the radio on, buttons to raise and lower the seat, buttons to raise and lower the windows, a button to open the trunk and a button to open and close the garage door. My big car dimmed the headlights for an approaching car and I even thought it might turn on the windshield wiper if a raindrop was encountered.


Setting set out to do my Christmas shopping I felt very confident. I had done all my ‘homework’. The newspaper inserts had been scoured to find the stores that would be the best choice for my selections. My list was in the proper order of my planned route. I even remembered to bring the coupons! I was not going to let Christmas shopping turn into a traffic nightmare and get to the shopping malls to find no parking and the department stores out of the items on my list.


The shops were all opening earlier the closer we got to the big day so I set out after the morning rush hour commute but as early as possible.
Not many shoppers were in the Malls at 8:30 am and I was really enjoying all the decorations, the Christmas music and the general excitement of the season. Spritely people were jogging around the kiosks wearing Santa hats calling out "Merry Christmas' as they went past me.
I had been able to make most of my selections and bundle all the bags into the capacious trunk of my roomy car. Department stores (Castner Knotts, Penneys and Sears) used to give customers sturdy boxes of all sizes and I had collected a nice variety.


I stopped at other retail stores to get wrapping paper, ribbons, gift cards, and novelties to make gift box bows and decorations. This was in the days before ‘gift bags’ when everyone made their gifts look like works of art with stand-up figures or ringlets of ribbon and artistic bows. Christmas presents wrapped and decorated set off the Christmas tree so much better than ‘gift bags’. Didn't we in Britain hang our present ON the tree?


There is no 'peeking' in a wrapped present – and what about the time-honoured tradition of shaking the boxes in the days before Christmas? You can’t shake a ‘gift bag’. All that work went the way of homemade Christmas decorations and stringing popcorn. Who has time anymore?

I was hearing “Merry Christmas” from everyone and responding in kind..... Ho Ho Ho.

Greeting cards were still feasible, postage was not prohibitively expensive, US Mail was dependable and buying cards was easy. Getting cards was heart-warming and re-reading and displaying them added to the Christmas spirit, but email is quicker.


At about two o’clock long lines were forming at the cash points. Frenzied shoppers were pulling out goods from their neat stacks and tossing them around. Garments were on the floor. Tempers were frayed and elbows were sharp. Boxes that were not meant to be opened were opened and the contents spilled out for examination.
People were beginning to be not so polite and I did not hear so many “Merry Christmases”.


When I headed back to my car feeling that my shopping expedition had been a success, I got in the car pushed a button, opened the trunk, piled all the bags in, push the button again to close, drive home watching all the harried Christmas shoppers driving round and around the mall parking lots looking for a parking spot.

In the deep south of the USA, it is the custom for the genteel drivers to always give friendly signals and even wave as a thank you to your fellow drivers as they allow you to blend in. Much gesticulating usually goes on between drivers who want to turn from the wrong lane, but not that day. Drivers were streaking across four lanes of traffic to get to the exit ramps. Drivers were turning right from the left lanes and vice versa – with no signals – and you can imagine the kind of hand signals that were then being given.

With all this madness going on, I was feeling Sooo smug
as I got home in my comfortable car, playing Christmas music
on the radio, all my shopping done, the big trunk of my car
stuffed with all the goods to enhance the Christmas Season.
I still had time to pick up the dry cleaning and get milk and bread from the supermarket
and still get home about the same that my husband would arrive at home from work.
I had a casserole in the oven and the timer set to cook it in time for our evening meal.
Wasn’t I the perfect little homemaker?
I wasn’t one of these bad-tempered shoppers.
I wasn’t one of those crazy drivers.
I had accomplished everything very calmly and properly.


Merry Christmas and ho ho ho.

And then……..

I pulled into my driveway, pressed ta button to open the garage door, and I eased my large car into my side of our two-car garage.
Ah! The pick-up truck was already parked in the other side of the garage – so - my husband was at home already.
In the garage, facing my car, was the very neatly organized workbench with pegboard for tools behind it and on top of the work bench toolboxes were stacked up and there were those little chests of drawers for storing all the screws, nuts and bolts. He is a very organized methodical man.
I parked my car on my side of the garage and before I got out of the car, I pushed a button and closed the garage door.
I then pushed the button in my car to open the very large trunk (boot) full of red and green shopping bags with Christmas greetings printed on them.
I turned off the engine, got out of the car, and stepped back to retrieve all the bags.
Oh, drat!
Silly me - I had not pulled into the garage quite far enough to be able to stand at the back of my long car to get all the shopping bags out of the trunk.
Oh well!
Leaving the trunk open….. and the garage door closed…..
I got back into the car, started it and planned to just ease the car forward a couple of feet.
I did not.
Instead….
I put my foot on the accelerator and slammed my very big car into my husband’s neatly organized workbench!
CRRRASSSH!
Oh dear! Oh dear!
What do I do now?
Did I put the car in park?
Did I get out of the car to assess the damage?
No – I did not.
Instead …
I quickly put the car in reverse and slammed the car through the garage door!
Another, even louder CRRRASSSH!
On top of that, another very loud CRRRASSSSH….
this was the smashed workbench with all the toolboxes toppling on to the garage floor.
The car had mercifully stopped with the impact of the car hitting the closed garage door.
All around me was complete wreckage, a wrecked car, a wrecked garage door and a wrecked workbench and a garage with screws, nails and splinters of wood everywhere. There wasn't a button to push for this mess.

Not so smug now, eh?

All of this happened in the space of less than 5 minutes ......and I can just picture my husband during all of this.
He heard the first crash, the car hitting the work bench, and he said to himself…..
”Hmmm…..she’s home”.
He heard the second crash, the car going through the garage door,
and he probably lowered his newspaper with a quizzical frown on his face.
He heard the third crash, the work bench falling over and all the tools,
screws, nuts and bolts scattering all over the garage floor.

That is when he came down to the garage to investigate.
What did he say when he saw me sitting in the demolished car?
Did he yell at me for wrecking the car?
Did he yell at me for crashing through the garage door?
Did he yell at me for demolishing his workbench?
No! All he said was:
(Typical husband question)
“How did you do that?


After I had a cup of tea I was on the phone with the insurance company, I was surprised at all the questions the agent had for me…..and then they became ridiculous, which provided some levity for the whole event and I tried to answer the questions about my “accident”.


Me “I was in the garage and crashed my car through the closed garage door”
Agent “Were there any passengers in the car?”
Me –“No”
Agent “How fast were you driving?”
Me “About two miles per hour – I was in the garage”
Agent “Was it dark?”
Me “No, I was in the garage and the light was on.”
Agent “Was it raining?”
Me “No, I was in the garage
Agent “How was the visibility?”
Me “Visibility was excellent, I was in the garage
Agent “Were the brakes working?”
Me – “Yes”
Agent “Were any other cars involved?”
Me – “No, I was in the garage”
Agent “Were there any witnesses?”
Me – “No”
Agent “Did you call the police?”
Me “No, I did not call the police, I was driving my car, in my garage, alone, the light was on, it was not raining and no other cars were involved”
Agent “Can you tell me what you think caused the accident”
Me “Stupidity”
Because I thought some of the questions were a bit odd I asked the insurance agent if this was an unusual incident and she told me:
No, we get reports of this sort of thing all the time!”
The agent had NOT asked me this question, but, NO, I had not been drinking.


In the morning I had a look at my poor squished car.
The hood (bonnet) of the car was open and smashed up against the front of the windshield (windscreen) and the lid of the trunk (boot) was open and smashed up against the rear window and the garage door was in splinters all over everything. Nails, screws and tools were underfoot everywhere when walking through the garage.
That morning carpenters came, replaced the garage door, and painted it!
Good as new! No one would ever know.

The car dealer sent a tow truck to take my car in for repair and I was only without wheels for about a week before we picked it up. It was like a brand-new car. No one would know it had ever been wrecked! Our insurance took care of everything!
Because I had a very clean driving record, no tickets or fines at that time, (after 64 years of driving that is still the case) I did not tell anyone about my "accident".
It was a secret for at least 30 years, but now it makes a great Christmas story.

Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas!




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