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It's the most chaotic time of the year

IN this, the busiest of months, chaos seems to break out all over

There are, of course, the predictable holiday-related problems caused by over-drinking, over-eating, and then over-sharing what we really think of one another.

Note: New Year's Eve is probably a bad time for this.

Added to that, however, is a plethora of random additional aggravations, like cars shuddering to a halt miles from nowhere just as their drivers' cell phones lose power.

Throw in people injuring themselves as their bikes skid on wet streets clogged with irritable Yuletide drivers.

Watch out for the shoppers with soggy grocery bags that give way, spilling indigestible fruitcake and bouncy Korean mandarins into gritty sidewalk pools.

Washing machines go out; dishwashers refuse to function; front doors suddenly fall off their hinges - though maybe that's just at my house.

Is it the law of averages, or is it just that many of us are so distracted that we fail to pay the usual amount of attention?

Or is it a household's physical disarray that causes this constant uproar? This is the month where any moment taken sitting down is also an opportunity to be seized for gift-wrapping or card-writing. That task must then be followed by the putting away - or not - of the paper, cards, stamps, ribbon, tape, and scissors, and the inevitable misplacement of several crucial elements of same.

Those of us who are absent-minded at the best of times comport ourselves now like modern versions of Laurel and Hardy. Our minds and our arms are overloaded simultaneously - hence the probability of a flamboyant pratfall. Just today I found a fresh orange dreamily rolled up in a bag with a jar of cinnamon in our spice cupboard. I'm not sure who was the culprit there, but can leaving a wicked trail of banana peels be far behind?

People like me, who, for a variety of reasons, have trouble finding the right names for things even on a good day, give up on any attempt at making sense when the world's absolutely buzzing around us. Instead, we throw in whatever term springs to mind. Thus, the other day, in a perfectly ordinary conversation with my husband about what we ought to have for lunch, I randomly inserted the word "legwarmers." It was better than nothing, was my reasoning.

I guess thugs must also have a crowded agenda in December. It's the year's last quarter, after all, and they likely have to meet the crime targets they set for themselves in a bleary haze last January 1st. That may explain why a couple of them broke into and pillaged a North Shore car repair shop the other week. This event would be a mere blip on my family's radar, if it hadn't been for the fact that the thieves spotted a car in the repair bay and apparently used it as the getaway vehicle. Said car happened to be ours. That's what I get for investing my freelance writer earnings in a Bugatti.

Sorry - just amusing myself. My tears of laughter will dry momentarily.

Actually, the car was a boring SUV that must have been ideal for carting stuff away.

After the flurry of excitement our automobile must have enjoyed while being loaded up with illegal booty, this once undistinguished jalopy evidently embarked on a life of crime.

Who knows what it got up to between the time it eased stealthily out of the service station and its retrieval days later? Drug transport? Escort delivery? Cross-border arms deals? Friendly visits to the Hells Angels for shortbread and festive sacks of crack?

Was our car happy to be released from its mundane daily chores? We'll never know, but certainly its personality changed from that of a mild-mannered transporter of dogs and teenagers to that of a ruthless crook.

Nevertheless, like any TV "perp" on a crime spree, our car inevitably went a little too far. It got itself involved in a Coquitlam chase and wound up smashing into a police cruiser (thankfully, the constable behind the wheel suffered only minor injuries).

Somebody was then arrested and from there, my family's lost the plot. All we know is that our modest car has gone to its final rest, and we're going to be out some money when we try to replace it.

My husband Stanley went to visit the turncoat vehicle one last time and retrieve what he could from inside its battered carapace. There was no sign of the napkins and rug that had been en route to the dry cleaner, vestiges of the car's former life as a middle-class suburban helpmate. In their place, the criminals had accidentally left behind an album by the tough-talking late rapper Tupac Shakur. No surprise there: Who else would they listen to - the Jonas Brothers?

That CD now thunders defiantly from our other car whenever our son drives it. In your face, bad guys!

RIP, old car. As for you, Christmas chaos? For the love of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, just get lost.

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