Perhaps it was my own mistake not to back-order it?
Perhaps. That would've cut down the waiting time as well.
I'm just guessing here based on whatever limited detail you gave. But to me the
domain name would've been available at the very least by Dec. 6, especially if it
was originally registered with Network Solutions.
There are a couple of discussions of that on the subject. Shorthand is if you don't
contact the current registrant about it and don't look it up on your browser, then
there's a chance the domain name might become available for re-registration.