NOTE: Please use this address

NOTE: Please use this address to see the vlogs — — rather than the addresses below. Sorry to keep repeating this through the various vlog posts, but I’m trying, post facto, to prevent further bandwidth discomfort.

Vlogging: My first two vlogs
: I created two new vlogs. The first vlog — here — is just a rewrite of my post about the new World Trade Center designs, below. But video allowed me to show the designs as I spoke about them and to add expression. TV adds life.

My second vlog — here — is about my family’s failed attempt to get a fake Christmas tree.

To read the script for that, slick on the “more” link below.


It has been a hard year — and so, in our effort to find ways to be easy on ourselves, my wife suggested we just give in, this year, and get a fake Christmas tree.

“Sure,” I said — so long as our kids will allow it.

“I’ve mentioned it,” she shrugged. And besides, she said, we always get into fights over trees: too big, too little, too dead. And half our family is allergic to nature.

So, she ordered a tree grown in some oil field and I went to pick it up.

And when my son saw the big box in my car and asked what it was, my wife said it was our Christmas tree.

He broke down.

Oh, boy. “God’s getting ya for gettin’ this tree,” I said.

The next morning, when I came down for breakfast, I asked where our daughter was.

“Downstairs… crying,” my wife reported.

“Why?” I asked.

“I told her about the tree,” she admitted.

My own childhood memories of Christmas are consistent: of real trees, real cookies, real religion, and plastic toys… of comfort, warmth, safety, and contentedness.

But no matter how hard we try, that lovely greeting card changes when we grow up.

Last year’s Christmas for me was all about surviving September 11th, about trying to reconcile grief and gratitude. I was a mess last Christmas.

Seventeen years ago at Christmas, I fell in love with my wife and she must have fallen in love with me, because she introduced me to her father that year.

It was a great Christmas.

He died a few weeks ago. That is why this will be a hard and sad Christmas for us.

But we are doing everything we can to keep Christmas for our children distant from that sadness.

Christmas is the right of children. For them, for every child…

Christmas should taste… like cinnamon.

Christmas should sound like bells and sweet voices singing good news.

Christmas should feel crinkly like wrapping paper and warm like a fireplace and cold like a snowman.

Christmas should look like… a Christmas tree.

And Christmas should smell like, yes, pine.

So I took my son to the fake tree store with our un-tree in its unopened box so he could see this forest of plastic in full bloom.

I sat him down and told him that Christmas belonged to children — it belongs to him — and so this choice was his:

We could have a very nice artifical tree, or we could return it and get a real one.

We sat down and stared at the trees, all decked out like tarts walking Tenth Avenue.

And he decided.

And so, today, we went to get a real tree.

And the house smells of pine.

It smells of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you.