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1.6.17 MIGHT snow 1-3 inches sometime tonight long after people would normally be home from work and school, but the governor has pre-emptively declared a state of emergency, so my institution is closed all day today. A snow day for what might be, best case scenario, a couple of inches of snow that likely won't even start to fall until after midnight—which is technically tomorrow.

Whatever. I'll take it.

With the way the holidays fell this year, we ended up having Monday off for New Year's, which was nice. When we got back from our trip, we took some time to unpack and relax, and then had sushi for dinner after Will went to bed. For the first time, he asked us to get him up at midnight, so we woke him up to see the ball drop.

The next day was more relaxing around the house before we headed over to a friend's house late in the afternoon. This family, whose daughter went to preschool with Will, has hosted a New Year's Day get-together with chili every year for the past few years, so this has become another mini-tradition. Will had a ball playing with his friends—there were two other families that joined us as well—and it was good to catch up with the host dad, who I used to hang out with a couple of times a month, but who I haven't seen except at kid functions since August or so because we've both been so busy.

Monday was still technically a day off, but I'd been very good about staying away from work email over the break, so I did need to take a few hours to clear out my inbox before Tuesday, because on Tuesday I was scheduled to be in a reading committee all day. It was nice to have a respite from work, but the chaos there continues to increase, and based on what I already know is on my calendar for January, it could be one of the most unpleasant in what is turning into a years-long leadership transition process.

After our nuclear family unit celebrated Christmas together in the morning, we headed out to my sister's house in the afternoon to have an early dinner and exchange presents with my sister, her husband, my mom, and one of our cousins and his fiancee. This has become a semi-tradition since my sister moved to Georgia about a year after we did—I thnk this is our third time doing this, and it reminds me of our childhood Christmases where we would always have the morning for immediate family Christmas and then we'd get in the car and head over to my grandfather's for the afternoon (although he lived a bit farther away from us then than my sister does from us now).

We've taken to not traveling much for Christmas since Will was born, but two days after Christmas we headed to my father's house in North Carolina for a few days, mostly because 1) we rarely get to see my brother who lives in Toledo, Ohio, and he and his crew were visiting my dad and 2) my sister who lives in Wilmington near my dad never, ever comes to visit Will, so the only time he can get to know his second aunt is when we go there.

It was a crowded house for about twenty four hours—in addition to the three of us, my dad, and my stepmother, my sister and her husband were there (they went up the day before us), and my brother was there with his fiancee and her two grandchildren, both of whom (for reasons that I won't get into here) are in the custody of my brother and his fiancee. We had a big Christmas dinner the night we go there that also included my sister who lives in town and her husband, and then did yet another present exchange afterwards.

The crowd started to thin out the next day when my sister and her husband went back home to Georgia, followed the day after that by my brother and his clan. We stayed for one additional day and then headed home on Friday so we would be back in Atlanta the day before New Year's Eve.

Our Christmas break was busy but pretty good. My mom stayed with us starting around December 20 and then went to my sister's house (about 45 minutes away) on the 23rd. She came back the next day to see Will in a Christmas pageant at our church on Christmas Eve, and then we headed out to my sister's on Christmas Day afternoon to have dinner with everyone (including my cousin and his new fiancee).

I didn't really have anything in mind for Christmas this year, but Will and Julie wanted very specific things (a first time for Will, and pretty unusual for Julie). Will wanted a robot named Cozmo from Anki, and Julie wanted an Apple Watch, which I was pretty happy about—for the past year and a half she's been using an ugly FitBit Charge HR that's way too big and clunky for her, even when the wristband is set to the tigtest setting.

We got lucky with Will's gift—he got obsessed with it pretty early in the holiday shopping season (he saw an article about it in Boy's Life in October), so Julie ordered it a few weeks later and we had it well in hand by the time it was sold out everywhere a few weeks before Christmas. Will was so anxious about it, rationalizing how he'd get it once he knew it was sold out—either Santa would bring it for free or we'd be able to pay the 100% markup and get one off eBay.

Julie, on the other hand, didn't make up her mind about whether she really wanted an Apple Watch and specifically which one she wanted until a couple of weeks before Christmas when the model she wanted was already sold out in all the Atlanta Apple Stores and the online orders wouldn't be delivered until after the new year.

She sort of resigned herself to not getting one until a week or two after Christmas, but I was undeterred—I was seriously thinking about driving all the way to Augusta or Birmingham to get her one (where they still had them in stock), but then I got a fortuitous text from my friend Doug asking for our address for his Christmas card list. He lives in DC, so while I was texting with him, I checked the availability of the model she wanted in the DC stores, and they had one in stock at a store 20 minutes from his house. So he graciously went and got one a couple of days later and had his wife FedEx it to me later that week.

To surprise Will, I convinced her to let me do a Christmas Story kind of thing where we hid Cozmo's box and saved it until he had opened all of his other presents. Instead of hiding behind a desk, however, I wrapped it in black wrapping paper and hid it behind a rack of LED candles we keep in the fireplace. Unbeknowst to Julie, however, I also wrapped and hid her Apple Watch back there, so when we directed Will to use a flashlight to search the fireplace for any additional gifts, he found two presents—one for him and one for mom. Julie was probably more surprised than Will was—Will was still optimistic that Cozmo would turn up somehow even when he wasn't delivered by Santa or in any of the other small gifts we got him, but Julie had long-since resigned herself to the fact that we would be getting her present a week or two after Christmas.

It was a fun morning—this is the first present that Will has really been obsessed with, and I think we surprised him as much as it was possible to, and Julie was genuinely surprised, which is pretty hard to pull off—usually if she wants anything specific, it's so specific that she knows exactly what I'm going to get her before she opens it (which would have been exactly the case here had what she wanted not been sold out locally and online).

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