On Christmas shopping, Christmas gift exchanges, S.A.D., nixing the ACA, and tempered Viking hopes...

We can do this (even the guys out there): Get your Christmas shopping done
This is the week, leading up to Christmas, where many people are perhaps more frazzled than they are during any other week on the calendar. Businesses are hosting "panic parties" for guys who have yet to buy excellent gifts for the women in their lives, and everyone is seemingly running around hoping that time would slow down so they can better prepare for the big holiday push. And, yet, among all of the frenetic stress, a person was heard to utter the other day, "I don't think I've ever had this much of my Christmas shopping done this early." So, there it is...hope. It can be done, before the last second. So happy shopping, everyone, and try to stay within your financial means.

Don't fear gift exchanges and white elephant activities, embrace them
It’s the end of December, that means its time for Christmas parties, family time, and gift giving. Since it is the season of giving, White Elephant parties and Secret Santa exchanges have been the most popular gift giving methods among Americans for years. In order to be a good Secret Santa, you must not tell anyone who you give to until the day of giving. If the person receiving the gift knows its coming from you ahead of the exchange time they will form expectations. The best part about Secret Santa gifts is that you don’t have to have any expectations, this is why your Santa is Secret. White Elephant gift exchanges are even more exciting. It depends on how you play the game, but you choose what gift to grab, what gift to unwrap and if you want to keep the gift. You may be allowed to barter for different gifts. Some White Elephant exchanges can be crazy, it depends on how many people are bringing gifts, and the usefulness or desirability of certain presents. Enjoy these parties and exchanges, don’t get caught up in the cost, choose what you think would be good to give in the situation you are in. Have a happy Christmas, and have fun during the season of giving.  – Anna Huck, student writer

If you’re ‘S.A.D.’ things will soon start to get better
Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the appropriate acronym, SAD? If you do, there's nothing funny about the acronym or the way the lack of sunshine and natural light this time of year around these parts makes you feel all down in the dumps, lethargic, and even downright depressed. Well, if there's such a thing as rock bottom for SAD sufferers, it's the winter solstice, with daylight at its minimum. We're going to hit it this week, on Dec. 21, and then one minute at a time and a couple minutes at a time, we slowly start adding daylight to our days. Yes, January and February are no treat, both winter-wise and daylight-wise, but it starts getting better ever so slowly later this week.

Don’t fret, you’ll still have your ACA (for a while)
A federal judge in Texas the other day ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional on its whole because of the provision requiring people to have health insurance coverage. And how nutty was it, in the wake of the judge's ruling, while President Trump was ripping the ACA and gloating about the ruling, the White House felt compelled to issue a statement to people who rely on the ACA for their health coverage, assuring them they still have coverage because the law remains in place while the legal process plays out. Democrats will appeal the ruling, and this will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court at some point. So, to those who need "Obamacare," try to enjoy your holiday season while not knowing how long you and your family will have health insurance.

Yes, it was a nice win, Vikings fans, but consider the opponent
At least now, after the Vikings’ convincing 41-17 victory at home over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Purple faithful can now rightfully claim that the underachieving team has defeated a team with a winning record this season. And, yes, the game probably couldn’t have gone better than it did overall. New offensive coordinator (interim) Kevin Stefanski put Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and the offensive line in situations in which they could succeed, and the defense, other than one play, was at its fiercest and dominant. But, still, we must consider the opponent, at least a little bit. The Dolphins may have been 7-6 coming into the contest, but it took a miracle play at the end of last week’s game against the Patriots for them to somehow win, and this is a team that simply does not win on the road. Add to that the fact the Dolphins have a habit of fading in December, and you get a nice win for the Vikings, but a victory that doesn’t mean this team is positioned for a playoff run.