It's December 25, early morning. Everything's closed. Everyone's at home, playing with new presents or trying to corral the kids or just maybe trying to get surreptitiously drunk on spiked coffee under the mother-in-law's nose. Result : This means that people are at home, not on the roads. Conclusion : It's time to go driving.

It's between 45 and 50 degrees F. with clear skies and a strangely soft cast to the usually laser-bright winter sun. The roads are in perfect condition. The tires happily accept the surface, clinging to the turns. Not quite speeding, but not quite cruising - just having some fourth-gear fun. Even on city roads, I'm the only guy out here.

One of the most fun things to do in such a situation - attack the highway on-ramps. Preferably one in a cloverleaf configuration, so you can take two on-ramps at once, doubling the pleasure. You shouldn't be squealing the tires, but pushing them just to the envelope of performance. Get some lateral G-forces. Watch the cops wave as they drive by - it's Christmas, it's time to drive, and they understand. Hell, they're doing the same thing - no one out on the roads, nothing else to do.

What I'm looking for out here is silence. Not actual literal 'silence', mind you. That would be hard with the revving engine and the road hiss that fills your ears. I'm looking for that time when your mind finally decides to stop harping on the low quality of gifts that you bought and how poorly they were wrapped and how nobody seemed really happy during the 'opening' ceremonies. Those things can't be helped, so I try not to think about them too much. So I drive, and eventually my mind shuts up and floats away and I'm just driving, nothing more, nothing less. Just out here, having fun, grinning.

The sun climbs to the center of the sky. The roads begin to fill up, people headed over to friends or famil for traditional meals of turkey and cranberry sauce and salad, but not the green leafy salads, but the ones with cottage cheese or whipped cream or mayonnaise, the ones with a good healthy dose of Christmas cholesterol. And it's time to go back home.

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