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Getting there

Picture your favorite people -- your partner, your parents, a kindly grandmother, a cute 3-year-old nephew, a brother or sister. And now picture them camping out for a second day on the floor of Denver's airport. Or napping in the departure lounge at O'Hare. All they want to do is get where they're going for Christmas. That's what's happening right now as weather makes a mess of the pre-Christmas travel plans across this country, and across the pond, where Heathrow is socked in, thanks to that strange "freezing fog" they get this time of year. We'll cover the prognosis and ramifications tonight. We'll also have the latest on the trouble Congressman Goode is in for something he said... and printed... and sent out. Lisa Myers has a special report on Iraq tonight, and we have a special segment on the definition of victory in Iraq -- a question we pose to some prominent thinkers. We'll look at the economy during this run-up to Christmas, and how's this for a tease: Bob Bazell has a look at a "big-boned" individual we'll be introduced to tonight.

Time magazine has taken some heat for its selection of "You" as Person of the Year." As you may know by now, their thrust is positive: that self-driven media, user-generated content has taken root and is the central theme in our culture these days. Some take a more negative view of this development, and see the risk to the collective that the incessant celebration of self could bring. When you sit down and actually compare it to just a few years ago, the use of the first person in the daily dialogue is truly striking. I came across this nugget in the current New York magazine: it's part of a pictorial featuring New Yorkers, who are stopped on the street and asked things like, "Tell me about your outfit." A young woman in a hat, scarf and coat answers:

"This coat is the epitome of me. I am never more myself than when I am wearing this coat. It's kind of fifties, and I consider my style more twenties, but there's just something about this coat. It's totally me."

Back to the point I was making: Why are people so tough to penetrate these days?

Let's end on an up note, shall we?  At the annual NBC News holiday party which was held this year in the hallowed Studio 8H, the very cool and iconic home of Saturday Night Live, it started to occur to me that Christmas is coming. I've been working like a dog, with the added advantage of being sick as a dog. Those of us who truly love this business can actually get romantic about it (it helps to be Irish... it further helps to be on cold medication), and so the highlight of the evening was when a veteran fellow employee came up to me and offered the nicest sentiment. She happens to be part of the control room team that gets us on and off the air each night. She said that each night, while she is counting down to exactly 6:30:00 Eastern time (the three network newscasts keep time by the U.S. atomic clock and come on at precisely the same time each night), she often thinks to herself that there are only two other people in network news who are doing that very same thing... that very same 5-4-3-2-1 count, at that very moment, each night. I told her the same thought often occurs to me in my role, when the red light comes on atop the lens when we come on the air. We both agreed that we have great jobs and share a wonderful occupation. We have been blessed in life and there's nothing we'd rather do. While in the re-telling it borders on schmaltz, it was indeed a nice note to end the evening on, and it made the Christmas season arrive a little faster. And for those longing for what everyone describes as that "old" feeling during this time of year, the posts today by Les Kretman and Steve Majors, from the White House and New Orleans, respectively, remind us that the spirit is out there to be found... even in our business.

Since I've been writing this, the official flight delay at ORD (Chicago O'Hare) is now posted at 4 1/2 hours. As they say: if you're traveling, check with your carrier.  Even better, stay home and join us for our Thursday night broadcast. We're working hard to bring it to you.