The Ronettes where playing on the radio, It was Christmas morning.
The children were rushing about like they’d had a caffeine injection; excitedly showing off there new toys while my wife was wrestling a turkey into the oven.
As I sat in my arm chair sipping my coffee my mind drifted back to the previous week.
The wipers swished rhythmically as they cleared the lightly beating sleet that was spattering the windscreen and the heater struggled to demist the inside.
All this was of no consequence as the car wasn’t actually moving.
It was the last Friday before Christmas and I was sat in a jam in the evening rush hour.
Half an hour I‘d been stuck in it and I was still only half a mile from where I worked.
I had time to take in the colourful and sometimes overly extravagant festive decoration on the houses which contrasted sharply with the meagre and tired looking display put on by the local council.
After another half an hour I reached the main road.
Nothing to see here through the wet steamy windows except the red tail lights of other frustrated drivers.
Twenty minutes after that accompanied by some over cheerful DJ on the radio I could see the roundabout.
The sleety rain was falling harder now and it was difficult to see through the murkiness.
After crawling to the roundabout I could just make out a flashing blue light which I suspected had nothing to do with Christmas.
As I got closer I could see it was attached to a police car which was blocking my exit.
Without any explanation the police had closed the road.
So I was faced with a choice, go back the way I came or take the exit off the roundabout which would take me in the opposite direction from where I lived.
I did the latter.
By the time I eventually arrived home I was in a black mood.
I shouted at the kids, moaned at my wife and tried to kick the cat.
My mood was not improved when my half cremated dinner was removed from the oven and what had once been gravy was now only a stain on the plate.
The weekend was spent doing all the pre Christmas stuff with the family and all too soon it was over.
When I returned to work on Monday I related my tale of woe to my workmate’s and we all had a big laugh about it.
Except for Harry, who lived locally, he just looked down at the ground grave faced.
Later, when we were alone, he told me the road was closed because a young woman had been knocked down and killed.
I was dumbstruck, I had no words just a feeling of shame at my selfishness.
A week before Christmas, she had died.
While I was cursing at being inconvenienced, ranting at being stuck in a jam.
A poor young woman lay dead in the rain soaked street.
Somebody’s wife and lover, also a daughter and mother and she was mourned by two children, a sister and a brother.
The sound of church Bells ringing out brought me back to Christmas morning and my family.
But I still couldn’t help thinking of other families for whom Christmas morning would be less joyous.
With the bells still ringing out I gave thanks for being alive.
Also I vowed to be more patient, more tolerant and more understanding in the future.
But I probably won’t keep it.