Welcome to the dark days of December. All those twinkling holiday lights are a gift from 18th century Germany, when locals celebrated Christmas by lighting candles on their trees to lift spirits.

Frankly, we could use a few wintry reminders. Open water on our lakes, shrinking piles of slush on green lawns, temperatures 15 degrees higher than average? So far our “winter” is about as flat as a tasteless diet cola.

November was the sixth-wettest and fourth-warmest on record, a far cry from last year, when we didn’t have a strong El Niño signal in the Pacific blasting mild air across the U.S. A mild bias continues into next week with a streak of 40s, in spite of patchy stratus and fog, which may be slow to burn off because of a low sun angle. “What time will the fog burn off?” Sounds more like San Diego than the Twin Cities.

No more sloppy snows are brewing anytime soon; the atmosphere should be warm enough for rain a week from Saturday. Models hint at a much colder front the week after that. The last half of December will be cold enough for snow. In theory.