We’re all alive – thank God!

When people asked how my Christmas was, my response generally sounded something like, “Interesting. I’m just glad to be alive.”

On Christmas Day last year, after a lovely morning opening presents and putting the final touches on cheesecakes and potato salad, we headed out to my parents’ farm.

My third L-plater, despite limited experience, was changing gears and handling the car well … until her phone rang. I went to answer it, she looked across, then we suddenly went out of control and sailed off the road into the never-never.

It was one of those enervating occasions when the thought flashes through your mind, “This is it!” And you leave it in God’s hands because there’s nothing else you can do.

Fortunately, no-one was seriously injured, though we suspected at first that our 7-year-old, who wore only a lap belt, had fractured her hip. Scans revealed that she had merely torn her hip muscles, which was painful enough, but not as serious. The rest of us were shaken but basically unharmed, and able to reflect on the lessons we had learned.

The first was the value of seat belts and children’s child restraints. As we had been “only going out to the farm”, I had intended to be lazy and put 3-year-old Harvey in only a lap-sash seat belt, instead of bothering to remove his car seat from the big van and refit it in the L-plater hatch. Julian told me not to be a fool and actually fitted it in himself. When we somehow hit a tree side-on, it was right next to Harvey. The impact cracked the car seat, and Harvey was temporarily knocked out, but the restraint saved his life.

Because I rang for an ambulance, we ended up with a police officer, two ambulances, the fire brigade and the SES – what a way for those poor blokes to spend Christmas lunch! I remember apologising to them at the time – they were nearly all locals and known to us, some of whom were good friends and sporting team-mates – and their response was that they were just glad it was not a tragedy. And we love our neighbours, who kindly loaned us their second large vehicle!

Our Christmas could have been a lot worse. We’re all alive – thank God!