Though I should have done this way back in the February issue (which had an on-sale date in early December), I'd like to wish all my friends, both readers and advertisers alike, a very belated but very heartfelt Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. These wishes came to mind as I sat writing this editorial on Christmas Day, outdoors on my patio I might add. Now please don't think I'm rubbing it in, it's just that when living in a temperate climate like that of Southern California it's easy to overlook the time of year and kind of tough to get into holiday spirits. Heck, it's difficult to be thinking of Santa and snowmen while mowing the lawn.

Now, before those of you who live in the land of cold weather toss this issue into your pot-belly stove, let me remind you that I've paid my dues by spending the majority of my life back east in New England – eastern central Connecticut to be a bit more precise. Back in the day I spent many a winter working on my project(s) in a cramped little one-car garage surrounded by snowdrifts.

It sometimes feels like it was just yesterday that I was trying to coax the garage temperature above the 50-degree mark with my trusty kerosene heater. It was through experience that I found that at about 58 degrees a skim coat of body filler would set up in less than an hour. Yep, those were the days…boots, parkas, ice scrapers, snow shovels, and for the lucky, snow blowers.

I'll never forget the typical rural winter morning routine: shut off the alarm, put on the coffee, throw on the winter clothes – coat, scarf, gloves and boots – out the door into piles of fresh snow where the driveway used to be. Then, spending an hour or so shoveling said driveway, less if it was light and fluffy, longer if it was wet and heavy. Head back indoors to a fresh cup of coffee, a hot shower, and a fresh set of clothes in anticipation of a slippery drive to work (my last years in the great white north were spent behind the parts counter of a GM dealership) only to find that while indoors the town plow trucks had gone by – leaving a fresh 4- or 5-foot-tall snow berm across the bottom of the driveway.

Cold and snow, no thanks, I've experienced enough. From now on I'll be fighting So Cal traffic and magazine deadlines rather than snowstorms and slippery roads.