Time spent with family is the true gift of the holiday season. We enjoyed several days with my wife's side of the family in Montana at Christmas.

After making and eating too many cookies one day, my daughter and I felt a little workout was called for. With temperatures in the low 30s, we braved the rims above Billings. The view was spectacular with the city sprawled out below us and mountains in the distance. After my face numbed to the cold it stopped hurting and I could focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Despite 15 inches of snow just a few days before, the paved trail was plowed clean for a nice, safe jog.

The same couldn't be said for the residential streets. Apparently side streets are not plowed in Billings, ever. We should be grateful in Minnesota at how quickly roads are taken care of here, even if it means a little extra work at the end of our driveways.

A group of us went for a skate one morning and followed that up with a trip to the ice cream shop, rather than a more traditional cup of hot chocolate. Maybe Montanans embrace the cold even more than Minnesotans.

We made it back to Minnesota by air just before the strong winds of Christmas weekend delayed many flights and added even more havoc to holiday travel. We had a smaller gathering at home with a few gifts and more cookies.

We broke out the Scrabble board one night and I put my older brother and recent college graduate daughter in their place. I scored a bingo with the word spandex. I used all seven tiles on my board, which is worth 50 bonus points. The 'x' landed on triple letter score and I formed two other words at the same time. It added up to a 100-point move. I celebrated the play like a guy hitting a home run, which my daughter stealthily caught on her phone.

I still can't tell my niece's twins Eldon and Jacob apart, but it was otherwise a joyful time. I hope you avoided the stress of the holidays and have a Happy New Year.

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