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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

Holiday Time in the New World

As I write this it's December 24th, Christmas carols are playing in the living room and I am working – a little – in the office I have in Claverack Cottage. As I went to get a cup of coffee, I realized I felt I had been here over a week already but it is actually only four days – but that is the effect the country has on some of us. Time slows down.

For many of my friends, the holiday season is a marathon of traveling. One friend is driving to his parents, three and a half hours over two lane roads before bolting back to the city. Another couple we know is spending Christmas Eve in Philadelphia and Christmas Day in Atlanta before settling in Miami for the duration.

I am enormously pleased we are going no further than the Wal-Mart this Holiday season.

Here in the quiet of the country, with Christmas Carols playing, it is almost possible to shut out the world outside for a little time.

A friend in Los Angeles asked if I was disturbed by the heightened warning level for terrorist activities. The country was up to Code Orange.

Honey! New York City has never been below that!

To be completely frank, as the chatter rose and the warnings intensified, I found myself grateful we would be out of the city for the Holidays. But I also knew that if we had planned to be in the city, warnings would not have caused us to leave.

This, Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea, is the reality of the new reality that has settled across the country. This is a glimpse into the future of our holidays – we will have to cope with warnings and learn to live with all these things.

When we were living in West Hollywood, the contractor working on our condo was originally from Israel and said that when he lived in Israel, you integrated the terror into your daily life and went on with it.

And that seems to be the way we are these holidays, in this the year of 2003 Common Era, we are going on with our lives even though we are awash with warnings.

During the early part of this past week, I realized I was hesitant to turn on the TV. Frankly, I was a little afraid of flicking on to be assaulted by an image of terror. I checked online before I turned on so that I wouldn’t be surprised. I wanted a little forewarning.

But I also realize that I have come to accept this as part of my life, that I will have to live with this as have all the other folks around the world that have had this kind of violence perpetrated upon them over the course of this already incredible century.

Yet, subdued though we are, we are finding our own quiet ways to be celebratory, to find joy while acknowledging that today in Baghdad there is fighting in the streets and that the fighting will be continuing, despite the capture of Saddam Hussein. And we will celebrate in our cities and our streets even though in our hearts we don’t feel safe in them the way we did a few years ago.

We will celebrate our holy days and the people, places and things which are valuable in our lives in our own ways, in a season where the new reality is settling over us and we are finding new ways of coping.

This is what I find so hopeful about our quarrelsome race. While we work very hard at killing one another, we also find to time to celebrate each other.

May that be the reality that finally wins the hearts and minds and souls of all of us in this new reality and this new century.

Happy Holidays Everyone!