Mondays are for catching up. After a long holiday weekend there’s even more to share, so here we go.

The girls had a long, five-day weekend. We could have used warmer weather as we really needed to shove them outside more. I’m not sure where they get all their energy. Or why they refuse to listen to us.

Wednesday M. got a replacement for her fish, Sparkle, which died two weeks ago. He was the last of our original fish, lasting roughly 28 months. Her new fish is named Aqua, joining Isabella and Grizzly.

Thanksgiving was excellent. We have family members who are new neighbors and they hosted all the locals for the day. Lots of good food, although I am a little sad that I can’t completely stuff myself like I used to. It’s not about trying to limit my intake because my metabolism has slowed down, either. My stomach just won’t accept as much food as it once could. As I told the girls that night, I remember one year in high school we had our Thanksgiving dinner mid-afternoon. Then a friend invited me over, I thought just to hang out. Turns out his family was having their Thanksgiving dinner at regular dinner time. So I sat down and had a whole second meal. Since I was 16 or 17, I’m sure I gained approximately a quarter pound that day.

Elfie, our girls’ Elf on the Shelf, magically appeared, ringing the doorbell as the girls were coming up from the basement for dessert. So far he’s hidden in the drapes in our kitchen, on a lampshade, under the Christmas tree with Barbie in her car, and in the drawer of our entryway table.

Friday was decoration day. I had to laugh at myself. As I drove up to our traditional Christmas tree place, at 10:00 or 10:30 AM, I felt a nervous energy and had Mr. Parker’s line from A Christmas Story going through my head, “If we don’t hurry all the good trees will be gone!” On the morning after Thanksgiving.

Fortunately there were plenty of good trees left and we got a beaut. The rest of the decorations went up, I strung our few exterior lights, placed our penguin at the front door, changed our welcome mat, and we were good. Every year I think about putting up more elaborate lights, but this wasn’t the year to do it.

While we were putting the tree up, I was spinning some of my favorite holiday tunes. The Mr. Hankey song came on and L. dropped what she was doing, yelled, “Ohhh yeah!” and started clapping and jumping around. That’s a parenting merit badge, right there.

As we do on years we don’t host Thanksgiving, we had our own mini-Thanksgiving meal with a turkey breast and the most important sides.

Saturday the girls went over to their Mimi’s to help her decorate. Since we are all about being done as early as possible, all their gifts were already here, hidden away in their Amazon boxes. We took their time away to get everything wrapped. Or, I should say, S. got everything wrapped. She smartly doesn’t let me within ten feet of a roll of wrapping paper. So now, other than getting some more stuff for their stockings, our kid Christmas prep is done.

After we picked the girls up we decided to beat the shopping crowds and went straight to a casual ItaL.n place for dinner. We walked in at approximately 4:39. The hostess asked us if we had a reservation. It was hard for me not to laugh in her face, or make a sarcastic comment like, “Oooh, we don’t. Do you think you can squeeze us in?” There were maybe five tables occupied, and by the time we left the place was maybe a third full.

L. got a gift card for a local movie theater at her birthday party. We finally put that to use Sunday and took the girls to see the new Disney princess movie Frozen. They loved it and I thought it was pretty good. Without giving away too much, for those of you who hate spoilers, there’s a key moment at the end where two sisters come together to save the day for all the good people of the story. Afterward, I asked the girls if they understood the point of that moment. After I got a bunch of blank looks, I said, “Always love your sisters!”

M. immediately shot that down. “Dad, it’s just a movie, there’s no point!”

Don’t think I’m not saving that for the next time she takes a movie or TV show too seriously.

So the 2013 Holiday Season is underway. I’ll say it again, knowing I’ve said this for the past couple years: this could be the last, big, all-kid Christmas in our home. So I’m going to soak in as much holiday goodness as I can. M. shows no outward signs of “knowing” anything. She’s about as into all the little holiday traditions that involve magic-over-logic as can be. Of course, she could be hiding her understanding to make sure she doesn’t miss out on presents Christmas morning. We know plenty of other nine-year-olds who have things figured out. But I just plan on assuming she believes until she tells us otherwise; I’m not forcing the issue.

Sports: Mixed bag.

KU basketball was awful in the Bahamas. How did that team beat Duke? But I expected rough moments in the first half of the season. If they don’t work out their issues things could get ugly quickly, with road trips to Colorado and Florida up next, and New Mexico, Georgetown, and San Diego State soon after.

KU football. While the result against K-State wasn’t a surprise, the how of it was. Jake Heaps actually looked pretty solid most of the time I was watching. I don’t know how much of that was the offensive line finally playing half-way decent vs. K-State not trying to put too much pressure on him. But he looked calm and was zipping the ball around. Only to watch his receivers drop it over-and-over again. A couple of the drops made you wonder if they were intentional they were so pathetic.

I don’t love Charlie Weis, but I’m also not an advocate of forcing him out after two years. The last two Mangino recruiting classes were weak. Turner Gill got a few headline players but little depth. And Charlie’s first full recruiting class, which took the field this fall, famously fell apart like a family picture in Back To The Future. Charlie has to get at least one more year. And hopefully handing over the offense to a new play caller next year will help. Oh, and having one of these big-time transfers actually deliver on their promise would help a lot, too.

Colts: I saw the second half of the game. They continue to Meh their way through the second-half of the season. Too many holes on defense, too many injuries on offense. The Chiefs are going to come to Indy and kick the Colts’ ass in the Wild Card round. The promising start seems like a long time ago.

Speaking of receivers who can’t catch, Darrius Heyward-Bey had at least one more awful drop Sunday. That was his reputation coming in. Nothing has changed this year. The reaction shot of Reggie Wayne after DH-B’s fourth quarter drop, which came at a huge moment, was terrific. Colts fans have been lucky not just to go from Peyton to Luck, but that there have been so many sure-handed receivers here over the last decade-plus. Marvin Harrison and Wayne caught everything. Brandon Stokely and Dallas Clark were terrific. Pierre Garçon wasn’t perfect, but he caught some important balls. T.Y. Hilton has turned into a fine catcher. Coby Fleener had a rough rookie year but has improved tremendously this year. But Heyward-Bey? Yikes.

Pacers: Also caught the second half of the Pacers-Clippers game, the first of a big, five-game west coast run. The Pacers built a big lead in the third quarter, weathered the inevitable Clippers run, and made big plays late to move to 16-1 now, going to Portland tonight. Later is a swing through San Antonio and Oklahoma City followed by a home game with the Heat. They’ll pick up at least one loss in that stretch, but if you don’t pay attention to the NBA, trust me, this team is really good. That record is no fluke.

Happy holiday season!