Welcome to 2011 and the start of a brand-new year! Hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday season. Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year. Always has been. Hopefully it always will be. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me either. After so many days, weeks and for some people even months of preparation, it is over and done with way too quickly. Just one lightning-fast 24-hour period filled with the blur of torn wrapping paper, screaming kids, visiting friends and family, holiday movies and music, and a multitude of foods as far as the eye can see. Then it is on to the cleanup, mounds of bills and, of course, preparing for next year. Still a lot of great memories though. When I was growing up, Christmas was always a huge deal in my tiny little Astoria apartment. Back then, I didn't think there could possibly be anything better than walking out into my living room on Christmas morning and getting to open everything that Santa had brought for my brother, my sister and me. And no matter how bad things were for us at the time, Santa always seemed to come through.

Well as great as those memories are for me, I was wrong about there being nothing better than getting to open presents on Christmas Day. Because looking back on all those years, none of the memories even begins to hold a candle to watching the excitement in my daughter's eyes these days as she opens her own gifts each Christmas. It is a sight to behold. Now I truly don't think there is anything better. All in all, not a bad way to end the year. And with another set of priceless Christmas memories in the books, we get to embark on the journey of a new year. Plenty to look forward to in the next 12 months. Lori, Meghan and I will be moving out of our neighborhood and into our very first house. Meghan will be making her first Holy Communion, her beloved Grandpa will be celebrating his 60th birthday, and I get to strive for some new goals and celebrate turning 40 alongside lifelong friends. Some people out there don't like change much and even dread when the new year comes around. But how could I possibly be anything less than thrilled for it with so much to look forward to?

Have a happy 2011.