Happy New Year, hope your holidays were joyous, peaceful and filled with the laughter of children.

Mine was educational.

I am a student of life. I make no claims to being intellectual, scholarly or even particularly bright. I just have so much to learn I can never let up. And I learned quite a bit over the recent Holiday Season and I thought I'd share some of it with you.

  1. Waiting until the last two days before Christmas to do all your shopping is much more exciting than doing it in October when crowds are smaller, merchandise more plentiful and weather less nasty. There is just something magical about braving crowds, freezing temperatures and frayed nerves a few days before Christmas.

  2. If you walk around Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve pretending to be cheerful people will think you're off your medication. Asking some harried shopper if she's having fun yet is apt to get you hurt.

  3. Shopping for a spouse of the female gender is never easy. Avoid clothing. It will be either the wrong color, wrong size or out of fashion. But, if you decide to buy clothing anyway and are not certain of the size, err on the small side. “Honey you still look like a size six to me,” works a lot better than “I can't believe you can't fit into that dress. It was the biggest they had.” Diamonds and gold always work.

  4. Don't bother buying gifts for your cats. They're perfectly content with paper, ribbons and Christmas tree ornaments. And it's much easier to undecorate a tree with a cat in the house. You just pick up what's left of your expensive ornaments with the dust buster.

  5. Cats, even de-clawed ones, will climb Christmas trees.

  6. The drive from Pensacola, Florida, to Denton, Texas, is long. Even after you clear Louisiana and enter Texas you still have about four hours left. Spend the night in Shreveport.

  7. Sneaking away two days before Christmas to fish is never a real good idea.

  8. Sticking to a budget at Christmas is a true Christmas miracle.

  9. One hundred and thirty-seven college bowl games are enough.

  10. Staying home on New Year's Eve instead of going to festive parties is not nearly as bad an idea as it sounds. Home is warmer, quieter and safer than the highways on New Year's Eve. You don't embarrass yourself trying to dance as if you actually possessed rhythm. And you'll feel better the next day and can enjoy the 87 televised football games.

I also learned, as I do every year, that despite the hectic nature of the season, the long trips to see family, and the unpredictable weather, this is still my favorite time of the year. Christmas promises hope and peace. I enjoy wishing people I don't know good cheer (even harried shoppers in Wal-Mart the day before Christmas Eve), smiling at harried store clerks and marveling at the creativity folks show every year with yard decorations.

And a New Year brings new opportunities, a blank slate to fill in as best we can and fish we have yet to fool.