It's a cold, drizzly, gloomy day in mid-December. Burl Ives is making his way through the 12 Days of Christmas on the XM radio station I tune to holiday music. I just struck out on the latest item my wife added to her Christmas list, putting the sum total of things I've managed to find for her so far at zero. Panic is not my friend but seems to be walking, uninvited, through the door anyway.

The outdoor Christmas lights have shorted out, so I'll have to plug them in, strand by strand, to find the faulty line and then replace it. My yard needs raked. Wet leaves hug the ground under the Bradford pears. A dry spell and a good stiff wind would blow most into my neighbor's well-groomed yard, leaving me somewhat embarrassed but not enough to help him rake his lawn. Forecast, sadly, calls for several more days of drizzle, so the leaves will remain where they are, turning from the brilliant vermillion and gold that looked so pretty on the trees several weeks ago into a brown, mushy gob of goopy vegetative matter.

I have half-a-dozen reporter's notebooks filled with interviews that need to be turned into stories before the end of the year. My computer has been on the fritz. My travel budget is shot and I have one more meeting to make before I call time on 2007.

My alma mater plays my wife's alma mater in the Peach Bowl, removing any possibility of a happy outcome. If her team wins, I'll be depressed. If my team wins, she'll be depressed and that means so will I. I know better than to gloat. I'm not stupid.

I have Christmas shopping left to do and the budget is pretty much shot. My wife wants new boots, so we traipsed through at least a dozen (perhaps I exaggerate) shoe stores last Saturday and found zip.

Earlier this week I woke up with a migraine headache, the first I'd experienced in more than five years. I think my shoulder has turned into an accurate weather predictor. It's raining; it hurts. It's cold; ditto.

I haven't been fishing in more than a month and my Oklahoma license expires the last day of December.

And I can't for the life of me, figure out why I'm in such a good mood. I'm cold sober, off pain pills, and relatively sane, or at least as sane as I ever get. I just love this time of year. It's too busy. I always spend too much money and wonder in February how those credit card balances got so high. I'll eat too much. I'll tell too many stupid jokes that my friends and relatives will politely chuckle at (Well some of them will).

But I look forward to the next two weeks.

I'll spend this weekend with my two grandsons, watching them open Christmas presents, ripping paper and scattering boxes in a wild frenzy of unmitigated joy. They'll demand attention and I'll pay it. They'll crawl into my lap and I'll read “The Berenstain Bear's Christmas Tree,” a holiday tradition since my children were too little to escape. It's a good story and I always get a little misty-eyed when I read it.

I love Christmas carols. I like a nip of cold weather (By January 11 I'm ready for spring, though.). I like fruitcakes and have a small one curing in a tinfoil wrap (They are pretty much inedible without soaking them in a cheap red wine for several days.).

I just love Christmas, the purpose for the season and the assurance that we are always best and happiest when we lose ourselves in giving to others. And, miraculously, even in the midst of the chaos, the drizzle and the travel, I always find the joy.

I hope you did, too. Happy New Year.