Happy New Year! We woke to 4-5” of new snow on the ground, with even more predicted for Saturday night. The girls are excited. I’m excited I can finally get them outside of the house for awhile.

With apologies to all the fans of Epiphany out there, the holiday season has officially ended. Yesterday we took our tree to the recycling pile at the park and packed up all our decorations. That does not mean I can’t empty out the notebook and share a few more holiday stories with you.

As we were taking the tree down, L. began calling it Cathy. Soon the other two were doing the same. They would run into the living room, touch the branches and say, “Oh, I’m going to miss you so much, Cathy!” “Good bye, Cathy!” “We love you, Cathy!” And so on. As the family Christmas tree expert, I admired their devotion to the tree. But, I also wondered, why give it a name the last day we have it? Shouldn’t they have named it back in November?

The girls each received a total of $25 from various relatives over the holidays. They were begging us to spend it – apparently all the new gear they picked up on Christmas day was not enough – so we took them to Toys R Us Tuesday evening.

The best way to describe Toys R Us on New Years Eve is that it reminded me of one of the old Mad Max movies. The place was a wreck. Shelves were half-empty. Nothing was organized. There were all kinds of items on display that had been returned, with bits of tape and wrapping paper on them. Some boxes had even been opened and crudely taped back together. Other items had apparently been lost back in storage, and were covered in dust, brought out in an attempt to fill some of the empty shelf space. There were rows of items with no price tags on them.

I guess they don’t restock and clean up the place until after New Years. It didn’t bother the girls, though. They each managed to spend their money.

We received a couple Christmas cards this year with kind of uncomfortable pictures of college-aged kids. One shot had a sister draped around her brother, who was sitting in a chair. Their parents mimicked their pose in another chair. One of my sisters-in-law saw the picture and asked, “So are they a couple or brother and sister? Because I would never hang on either of my brothers that way.”

Another card featured siblings on or near a beach. The brother had his arm around his sister. S. took a look at it and said, “His hand is kind of close to her boob, isn’t it?”

Sooooo that’s how it is in your family.

Remember, kids. Take a long look at those cards before you send them out next year.

We’ve had AT&T Uverse for nearly four years now. It’s ok. I’m not a huge fan nor have we had any issues. Each December they roll out a Santa Tracker channel that has games, holiday karaoke, read-along kids books, and a Santa News Network area that gives updates on the big man’s preparations and travels.

The girls love it. That despite the fact it’s been the same each of the past three Christmases. Same “anchors” on the SNN, with the same scripts and updates. Same games and books. They still checked it every half hour on Christmas Eve, when his progress around the globe is updated.

Worse, it’s all still in standard definition and seems to chug through the data pipe at about half-speed. Each time the girls tried to do karaoke, the song would freeze multiple times so it could buffer. For basic graphics and some compressed audio.

You would think a multi-billion dollar company like AT&T would invest a little to keep the channel updated to show off the power of its network. As it is now, it’s like the original iPhone on the old EDGE network, before they slapped a 3G or LTE radio into it.

I was also bummed AT&T hid the Yule Log station in a section of channels I rarely check. I think I finally found it on Christmas Eve. Nothing better than reading a book in front of a fake fire with some soothing, instrumental Christmas tunes in the background.

I’ve documented many times here on the blog how I dislike January and February. I hate their bleakness, coldness, and emptiness.

For many people, having Christmas and New Years back-to-back is perfect. Schools let out for two weeks. People take vacation time from work. We can cram all kinds of parties and family gatherings into a couple weeks. Retailers get a nice boost to the bottom line to close out the year.

But I think Christmas should be a month later. Yeah, I know this really only applies to those of us in the northern latitudes, but we really need something to spice up January and make the worst part of winter pass quicker. Besides, a lot of Christmas songs are better suited to the colder, snowier times of January than the often rainier, less predictable days of December. I often find myself humming “Let It Snow,” or “Winter Wonderland,” among others, when we get a big snowstorm in January.

Jesus was not born on December 25. That’s an arbitrary date picked by a Roman emperor, and later cemented by Pope Gregory, hundreds of years ago. So there’s no real reason to keep it there.

So the next presidential candidate that proposes moving Christmas back a month has my vote. No matter how nutty their other ideas might be.