So off we went on a little winter break: Christmas in Michigan. One hour into the trip, the children were poised for a blood-letting and I was tearing at the bag of Mint Milanos I had sworn not to eat until noon. The SUV was stuffed to the gills as we stomped up north, leaving our carbon footprints in our path. Then I did it. I stupidly, stupidly asked myself the question: Could things get any worse? The universe chose to answer my question. No, I didn’t get teleported to Afghanistan or break out in hives, but the fuel pump on the car did die a quick death.

As luck would have it, we broke down right under a billboard for a 24-hour towing service. So there we were: Cranky, Whiny, Punch, the sitter hitching a ride, Mom, Dad and an extremely bored highway patrolman. (He did, however, laugh when I told him this was my first time in the front seat of a police car.) We waited for Duane to come tow us to his garage. Considering it was the Sunday before Christmas, it was a miracle he came at all.

There we were left to explore the tiny hamlet of Mulberry Grove. Another stroke of luck it was fairly early, so we were able to grab a bite at the local eatery, which closes at 3 p.m. It did have two sections, though: one where smoking was an option and one where smoking appeared to be mandatory. Diet be damned. I’ve broken down in southern Illinois and some kindly woman is offering me fried chicken and mashed potatoes it’s all about silver linings.

Six hours later we find ourselves renting a car and starting this trip again. We found one place that had a car big enough for the whole family a minivan. Now, I have always been opposed to minivans on moral grounds. I realize they are extremely practical, but what’s next? Am I going to start talking about my kids’ soccer prowess at cocktail parties? Volunteering to be the room mother? Baking? Sadly, I was left with no choice.

Let me be the first to say, my bad. This car was unbelievable. It was as if the car designers anticipated my every need. What would Debbie want in her passenger seat? For example, there are 10 drink holders in the front seat. 10! At first I thought how ridiculous, but two for tennis ball canisters, two for bottled waters, two for empty cans, one for open Diet Cokes, two for sunglasses and one for crumpled candy wrappers it’s dead on. And all the luggage fit neatly in the back, so we all had leg room.

Comfortable, you ask? My God, this car was one artfully arranged set of unused wedding china away from being my living room. The children, preoccupied with DVDs and unexplored nooks and crannies, didn’t fight or whine at all. It was as if the car made them happy, made us happy—the Stepford car. Best of all, this minivan took us safely through a blinding snowstorm right to our front door. Next time I car shop, you can find me at the minivan lot. I don’t even care if I start baking.

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