Each time I packed the car, I found myself humming the theme song to Tetris.

Each time I packed the car, I found myself humming the theme song to Tetris, the puzzle game where you must perfectly fit odd shapes into a stack. For a parent, this is a big part of the holidays. Our car's not overly large, so space can't be wasted.

When we celebrated Christmas at my parents', we also brought the cats. So we packed light, hoped the cats would be cool on the drive and hit the road. These cats are road warriors, and spent the trip either sleeping on the floor or in one of our daughters' laps. We used to have a cat who would meow for an entire trip and insist on lying across your shoulders. He once opened the window while we were stuck in traffic in Chicago. He almost made a run for it, for what I assume was a trip to get a steak from Harry Caray's steakhouse.

But we made it, and we had a great holiday. And our daughters got a carload of cool presents from their adoring grandparents. As I packed the car to leave, I hummed the Tetris theme song, also known as the Korobeiniki, a Russian poem from 1861, with a ever quickening tempo. And I turned each piece of luggage and each present in such a way it fit perfectly.

I feel like if you have this skill and are single, you should bring it up to potential mates. If someone is really interested in a long-term relationship, the way you pack up the car should be a mitigating factor.

When I announced the car was perfectly packed and all we were missing was our kids and our cats, my wife handed me two more bags. And when I returned from the car, my dad handed me a few more things. Then my mom pointed to a couple of things. She said she'd just bring it with her the next time she visited.

"Oh, I can fit them in the car," I said. A lot of the car packing game is built on confidence. Confidence that the latch on the back of the Kia will hold.

When we drove home from Christmas No. 3, at my in-laws, we decided to make a stop at Trader Joe's. Of course, we didn't have room in the car. "But let's not worry about that now," I said.

And with some skill and a little hard shoving, we got everything to fit.

While I enjoy the challenge of loading the car, I am not a fan of unloading it. But my wife and I got one pile moved onto the porch, then the kitchen, then put away. My daughters helped a little, but were eager to head downstairs to play with the dollhouse Santa brought them.

"Can you believe Santa even cleaned the entire basement?" my 3-year-old asked.

"That's amazing," I replied. "And he even vacuumed."

When you are packing and unpacking the car and putting everything away, it is a great time to reflect on the holiday. It's a time when we try to see or contact as many of our loved ones as we can. We are lucky to have a lot of them. We put a lot of miles on the car to see them, and it was well worth the trips.

And at the end of it, it's also a good time to appreciate all the couch has done for you, and spend some quality time with it.

Reach Dave at 330-580-8490 or david.manley@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: @DaveManley