In hindsight, maybe it was cruel to tell the adolescent children I had their Christmas gift early this year and I couldn’t wait to show them.

I might have misled their hopes but I can assure you, I was really proud of this purchase. I figured they should be too.

Unfortunately their anticipation quickly deflated when they realized my gift to them was a brand new snow tire each. That’s right. I blew my whole Christmas budget on road safety, and thus, this year, everyone in my family of four gets their very own snow tire. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, really. 

The Carpenter, who shares my bank account and thus, my reality, was perfectly okay with the idea. The adolescents? Not happy. They stood out in the driveway in silence, looking at my black rims and deep-grooved tires with nothing less than disdain.

Surely there was an Xbox One in the trunk or a full wardrobe of clothes from a trendy store – gift cards, even? There had to be something more than slush-covered rubber.

My suggestion that they each name a tire – you know, to make it more like a personal gift – didn’t go over well either. Apparently they have outgrown imagination games. Sigh.

And so the wheels quickly came off the Christmas tradition of “it’s better to give than receive,” replaced with the reality that things cost money, that needs come before wants and that, in this house, the parents have a truly warped sense of humour.

Since I am the family taxi, I wrongly assumed they would be thrilled that I now had the ability to get them to hockey, sleepovers, dress rehearsals and yes, even school, with a little more traction and hopefully better odds of staying on the road this year. Goodness knows the girl child will not let me forget the ditch incident last year (totally not my fault).

Apparently road safety only matters to me.

Truth be told, it matters to me a lot. I’ve spun out enough times to know I don’t much care for it. You see, I subscribe to the message from Wellington County OPP: if the roads are not safe or if you are uncomfortable driving in bad weather, stay home. Good enough for me. But life doesn’t always go according to plan, so best to be prepared. Snow tires may be a luxury, but they are also a necessity. I feel better on the road and that means you can too.

We had hockey that night, and it happened to be in the middle of last week’s snowfall, so I put my new tires to good use playing chauffeur to my son and his odorous hockey gear. I got him to the arena on time and without sliding through intersections, (which had happened just the day before). I thought this was exciting. He thought I was nuts.

There was only one way I figured I could redeem myself and make him appreciate his Christmas gift: with the time-honoured tradition of doing doughnuts in an unplowed parking lot. He didn’t believe I would do it, but I spun us around in circles, slid us across ice and tested our skid traction until he looked like he was going to toss his cookies in my car.

Memories. Laughter. Safety.

Best gifts ever. 



Kelly Waterhouse