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From Casey . . .

Casey Williams writes a weekly car review that appears on these pages.

Being an auto enthusiast, many of my fondest Christmas memories center around four-wheeled experiences – usually involving one of my grandparents. Some of my fondest were driving my grandma to Christmas Eve services in her Mercedes or riding with my grandpa to pick up presents in his 1980s pickup. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I really appreciated the time spent with loved ones.

During much of the 1990s, I was a student at General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich. There were long semesters, taking massive credits under constant stress. Beyond coursework, I was auto editor for the school newspaper. I remember one semester, after finals, standing in the snow taking a long sigh that it was finally over. I could not wait to pack up my little Geo Spectrum and drive to my grandmother’s in Marion.

Later that evening, my grandmother and I would drive through the Walkway of Lights along the Mississinewa River in Marion. We’d have a quick dinner along the way and enjoy hot chocolate in Matter Park. Nothing made me happier than spending that time with her. The next day, my parents and extended family would arrive for the holiday, but that night was just between my grandmother, myself, and her glitzen’ Benz.

My grandmother passed in 2011, but she gave me her Mercedes C220 when she quit driving a few years before. I now have a seven-year-old daughter who never met her great-grandmother, but every year we back the Mercedes out of the garage, flip in a tape of Christmas songs, and take our own tour of lights. We drive down Meridian, past mansions aglow, and around Monument Circle downtown, then stop at a coffee shop to grab hot chocolates. I only wish our grandmother was with us.

I remember another Christmas Eve when it snowed so hard we couldn’t make it ten miles to my grandparents’ for dinner and presents. Like a modern-day Rudolf, my uncle blasted through blowing snow in his four-wheel-drive Chevy pickup, piled us all in the front seat, and delivered my family to the festivities. As we plowed up the drifting driveway, my grandfather stood next to his spruce tree with antique colored lights smiling ear-to-ear. We made it. Christmas was saved.

I wonder what my daughter will remember. Will it be long hours in the back of our new Subaru Outback Wilderness through snow and fast highways to visit relatives in Kokomo and Dallas, Texas? Or, maybe riding with her grandpa in his pickup truck to choose a Christmas tree or load up some firewood? Whatever it is, I hope her holiday memories are as fond as mine.

And, I hope you’ll take some time this holiday season to make your own memories with family and friends. Go for the drive. Stream some Christmas songs. Enjoy all the lights. Grab a hot chocolate. It is the most magical time of the year, so send up a toast to Santa and enjoy it!

Storm Forward!