Every once in a while, when I’m sure I’m right with God and my immune system feels particularly strong I muster up all my courage and clean the Expedition. It’s interesting what you find once you take out the back seats and look under the front ones.

There’s always the inevitable: socks. Soccer socks from Abbie’s team; grimy, grass-stained football socks from Nate and at least one pair of tights from Madison’s dance classes.

Then there’s balls. Basketballs from everyone, a baseball of Nate’s and a softball from Madison.

Of course, there are the old standbys:

* Colored pencils, an eraser and spare pencils from Abbie’s art classes.

* Leftover ribbons from the fair (I’m not sure if the ribbons are for hogs, baking, art, sewing, photography, woodworking or something else I’ve blocked out of my memory from that hectic time of year.)

* Trash. Yes, trash. From Gatorade bottles used to hydrate as we go from practice to something else, to fast food wrappers (we eat a little too much in the car. You have to when you have so much going on that your first opportunity to eat at home would be 9:00).

* Coats, sweaters, hoodies, gloves and caps. All brought along (usually by Nate) at their parents’ behest and unfortunately “forgotten” when they get out at the event.

* Sheet music for a saxophone or a trombone that Maddie or Nate was probably supposed to memorize but that they don’t really need because they are superb musicians and can “wing” it.

* A deck of cards from the Baxter reunion at Mahoney

It seems like, with any year, there are the red herrings.

* A long length of ace wrap from Nate’s knee surgery (actually quite clean, count me amazed).

* A petrified piece of salt water taffy bought at Wall Drug on our way to the Black Hills for the Giffin reunion.

* A tie that Nate wore to his Grandma Barb’s wedding to Jerry Brand this fall.

* Sandburs from the Elkhorn river canoe trip that Eric Biehl and I took way too late this fall.

* Nebraska Drivers manual Nate studied so he could get his school permit

Now you may be asking yourself, “Isn’t there anything in there from you or Brandie?” Well, actually I really only need three or four things in the car. Checkbook, cash card, spare keys and cd’s (to drown them out if need be). That about covers it for me.

Brandie seems to manage to leave behind bills or some other kind of paperwork or work papers that she’s worked on during our trips to G.I. and Kearney. They’re covered with acronyms that mean nothing to me. I just transfer these to her car in the garage following Mugsy’s advice: (Don’t never throw nothing away!).

Even though I grumble about all the junk in my car all the time it serves as a remembrance of our busy, full lives. Even the nicks and scratches earned over thousands of miles traveled (within the city and over the road) mean something to me. Scratches and dents are inevitable if you live life. They’re going to happen. And I can’t think of four people I’d rather share them with than my family. Beyond that even, I can’t imagine better folks than our family and friends with whom to share our lives. May your Christmas be full; I know my car will be.