Everybody has a story: Holiday season gets off to smelly start for family

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My son-in-law Rob's broken ankle was a result of playing in the annual firefighters' Thanksgiving Day football game. Getting around on crutches was a pain, so he was more than ready for a family outing to look at Christmas lights. The light display at Portland International Raceway was their choice.

Rob and wife Shari, our daughter, had a big car with three rows of seats. The last row can be folded down for storage. On this outing, their two older children each got to invite a friend to go with them. Four-year-old Sierra picked 3-year-old Olivia, and they sat in the middle row. With them was the littlest girl, 2-year-old Quinn. River picked Collen, both age 7, and the two boys sat in the back row — with two big dogs.

When they arrived at P.I.R., Shari, who was driving, glanced in her rearview mirror to check on the children. Collen, far away in back, didn't look good. Shari turned around to get a better look and yep, he really didn't look good. She started dialing his mother to determine if he gets carsick. Meanwhile Rob, beside her in the passenger seat, was looking frantically for a sack or any container that he could pass back to the boys. The only thing was a small plastic sack.

Rob got out of the car to help Collen out the back door. But first those two big dogs had to jump down. Rob, on crutches, tried to hurry back there, but it was too late.

Meanwhile Sierra, the oldest of the three girls, totally unaware of the drama going on behind her, asked, "What is that smell?"

Wise Olivia, age 3, had the answer: "It's Santa Claus!"

Sierra couldn't believe it. "Santa smells?" This idea had never occurred to her before. So the great debate was on in the second row — amongst a 2 year old, a 3 year old and a bewildered 4 year old — as to whether Santa needed a bath.

In the front seat, the adults were looking frantically for something absorbent. Rob rustled around in the glove box and found a maxi pad. "You're not giving that to Collen," Shari said.

"Why not? He doesn't know what it is."

"I don't care. You're not giving that to him."

So now the adults were arguing in the front seat. The girls were discussing Santa's hygiene in the second row, River was in the third row trying to distance himself from his friend but had nowhere to go — and the dogs were barking in the back of the car, apparently upset over the chaos. And Collen? Well, Collen was feeling a whole lot better. In fact, he was now smiling!

Apparently, it's not easy to get out of line at the Portland International Raceway, so they had no choice but to roll down the windows and tolerate the cold and the smell.