'Tis a joyfully stressful time of year. So much running around, checking lists, trying to exceed expectations. The fog of consumption makes it hard to remember what we're really celebrating.

This festive, manic time of year coincides with the darkest days of the year, which can throw some of us into a deep funk. Only 8 hours and 46 minutes of daylight on today's Winter Solstice.

But December 21 marks a psychological turning point, at least for me. We pick up 3 minutes of daylight by New Year's Eve, another 54 minutes by the end of January! Today brings the least daylight but the coldest weather usually arrives in mid-January; there's a three-week lag in the atmosphere.

At the rate we're going we may see half a winter this year. We cool slightly today (only 10F warmer than average) but 40F returns midweek. A light mix is possible Wednesday; models hint at wet snow or a mix Saturday. We chill down next week but a warm signal is still overwhelming the pattern. Santa may show up in a shiny red convertible.