I admit it. December is a month that finds me particularly scattered, more so than usual. In some ways I love the bustle and bounty. Other times I reach my limit of juggling the holiday doings on top of the usual activities of life. Even when we resolve to keep it simple, we still have the gift list, the decorating, the kids’ concerts, the church parties, the work functions, the Christmas card, the neighborhood activities and, yes, our fairly lofty expectations that all of this will achieve that quintessential holiday experience. How do I know when the juggle has outgrown my capacity to keep up? Oh, it’s hard to miss.

A while back my husband and I went on a romantic date to Costco on a Saturday afternoon. I had the keys to the car in my purse so I drove us there while we chatted away about work and our kids and the upcoming plans and other sundry things. You know, like you do. We parked out in the nether regions of the lot since it was an hour before closing and everyone in the Boston metro area had realized they needed bulk toilet paper and mega packs of dog food.

We went in and spent a good 40 minutes gathering the packs of batteries, double sleeves of bagels, containers of blueberries, and bulk candy (for his ever-depleted bishop’s office jar). We bought our things, packed them into boxes, and headed to the car.

We darted around cars and carts and trudged up the hill to the back of the parking lot. As we came closer and our car came into view I commented, “That’s weird, it looks like there’s smoke coming out of our tailpipe.” We decided maybe the car behind ours was creating an optical illusion. We got closer. “No, there really IS smoke coming out of our tailpipe. What’s up with that?”

It was then that I reached the car and realized IT WAS ON. As in running. I had gotten out of the car, left it running with the keys in it (unlocked) and shopped for close to an hour.  Seriously. Preoccupied doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Oy.

At home, I confessed the whole saga. Kids, go mark this date on the calendar as the day your mom began to lose her mind.

This does, actually, have me worried about my brain. Please tell me you’ve done something forgetful + absent minded + loopy at some point, too?

December 7, 2011
December 9, 2011


  1. john roberts

    December 8, 2011

    Ha. Did the same thing at my daughter’s high school graduation.

    Left the car idling, unlocked, in the school parking lot for three hours.

    That was twenty years ago, and I can still compose a coherent sentence.

    I mean, I can, right?

  2. Peyton

    December 8, 2011

    I did that at a friend’s baby shower once. And at first I didn’t even realize that the car was on, I was stuck on the fact that my keys were in the car I was certain I had locked (I hadn’t). Totally freaked. It wasn’t even a crazy time of year and I didn’t have any kids yet, so I dont know what that says about me. 🙂

  3. Sandra

    December 8, 2011

    Ouch. Scary. I am glad nothing happened.

    I have left my keys in the door of our Baltimore city rowhouse more times than I can count. I am always amazed that they weren’t stolen. Once the the JWs who knocked on my door handed them to me. Embarrasing.

  4. Roberta

    December 8, 2011

    I did the exact same thing! I still can’t believe it! My youngest daughter and I were so busy chatting when I parked at the grocery store that I turned off the lights and set the brake…we continued chatting…then we both got out during mid-sentence and walked into the store still engrossed in our conversation. When we got back to the car and we discovered what had happened, we laughed till we couldn’t breathe. Great memory!

  5. Ellen

    December 8, 2011

    Um. Yes. About 15 years ago. I had plans to take some new friends to Maine on a Saturday. They cancelled at the last minute. I decided to make chili. Then they called and said they could go. I picked them up and gave them a tour of southern Maine (65 miles away). We were gone about 6 hours. When I got home and opened my front door…I smelled chili. Thank goodness I had left it on LOW. BUT STILL! I was quite rattled.

  6. Michelle L.

    December 8, 2011

    Oh darling– I’m right there with you, forgetting more than I’m remembering these days. Thanks for a delightful post!

  7. Tay

    December 8, 2011

    Yes, that is one thing that my phone can’t remind me to do. There should be an app for THAT.

  8. Kiar

    December 8, 2011

    I have never left the car running, but one day, I got off work and sat on a bench in front of the store I worked at, to waiting for my husband to pick up. After an hour i sat fuming at my husband in my head about how we were going to be late to his grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. I finally went inside and called him, chewing him out as soon as he answered the phone. He let me vent then gently reminded me that I had driven to work so I could come home immediately, if I got off early. Oopsie! (we made it on time)

  9. Ana of the Nine Kids

    December 8, 2011

    I’m right there with you on this crazy time of year! 🙂 So far all I’ve done is forget an ortho appointment for my daughter. I’ve been taking it one day at a time (like I vowed to after LAST year’s insanity) and it’s gone pretty well! I even lay on my bed today doing nothing but THINKING, ignoring all the other stuff I COULD have done. I feel much better now.

  10. Grandma Honey

    December 8, 2011

    Remember that day because when you are older like me, and you do something like that you can say, “It’s not dementia. I did this way back in the day when my kids were still home.”
    Trust me, that memory will be a comfort to you.

  11. Michelle

    December 8, 2011

    Grandma Honey for the win!

    I echo Michelle L. on all counts.

  12. Sage

    December 8, 2011

    Love that I’m not the only one to feel like parts of my brain have gone missing. Glad your car was still there.

    I laughed at Kiar’s story. Priceless! I’d share some story of my own, but can’t remember right now.

    As far as getting ready for Christmas, I am way behind…I need more hours in each day!

  13. Annie

    December 8, 2011

    Oh, I love hearing these. Who knew there were all of these running & parked cars out there and well warmed chili and inviting sets of keys in doors.

    Grandma Honey, thanks for reframing it into a positive. You’re absolutely right. Unless it’s the start of early dementia. Time really will tell!

  14. Blue

    December 8, 2011

    One day I came out of the store, unlocked my car with the remote, loaded my groceries into it, climbed into the driver’s seat, buckled up, and then put my key in the ignition but it wouldn’t turn. I sat there for about ten minutes, growing increasingly frustrated because I thought it was the wheel lock feature that I had to turn it just right to get the key to turn in the ignition. I was very frustrated, and about to give up and call AAA when suddenly I noticed a cup in the cup holder that I’d never seen before. Looking around, there was a sweater on the back seat that wasn’t mine, either. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I WAS IN SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR!

  15. Blue

    December 8, 2011

    (didn’t meant to hit enter)
    I was terrified that they’d come out of the store and see me in it and think I was trying to steal it. My own car, same make and model and color, was in the same spot, one row behind theirs.

  16. Sage

    December 9, 2011

    Oh Blue! That’s almost happened to me, but only trying to put the key in (guess it was good I didn’t have a clicker).

  17. Annie

    December 9, 2011

    Blue, something similar happened after my wedding reception. Someone came out to the parking lot and their car wasn’t there! They looked around and saw another identical car (not theirs) and figured it out. Someone happened to know the other owners and it all got straightened out. But odd that the keys would even WORK in another car!

  18. Melinda George

    December 10, 2011

    My mom did this too,(left the car on while shopping) when I was ten or so, she had five kids, and no sleep. When Dad found out, he took us to grandma’s house and let her sleep for a few days. :). Wouldn’t it be great if Santa could bring us sleep and rest all wrapped up in a pretty box?

  19. Barbara

    December 10, 2011

    Once I turned on the water to fill up the sink in my kitchen, and then I ran downstairs to do something. I forgot the sink was on and it flooded my kitchen ruining the wood floor. I’m blaming it on the fact that I had two toddlers at the time.

  20. Corrina

    December 15, 2011

    Last year I went to Costco with my 3 young children (2 of which were twin one-year-olds at the time). I ran into a friend from my ward inside Costco (we don’t live in a heavily saturated LDS area, so it was random to run into her). Then she said, “We just parked next to this van that had both doors wide open, and had all these car seats and stuff inside. My husband said I shouldn’t touch the car, but I decided to shut the doors, b/c I couldn’t see the owner anywhere.”

    Immediately I remembered: DUH! That was my van–I had totally forgotten to shut both van doors.

    I think it was odd that she of all people saw my van, and THEN ran into me to then tell me the story.

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