• Here Comes Saint Nick: Thursday's story about St. Nicholas (page 7) germinated from a conversation that correspondent Isabelle de Pommereau had with her 6-year-old daughter. She had just returned home from kindergarten in Frankfurt, Germany. "She was carrying a stocking of nuts and oranges, and told me it was given to her by St. Nicholas - the bishop, not the Santa Claus," says Isabelle. "I grew up in France, where we have no tradition of Santa Claus or St. Nicholas. In my home, we had no tree either, just a Nativity scene."
This year, Isabelle and her husband decided to adopt the German tradition. A friend dressed as St. Nicholas visited their home on Dec. 6, bringing a stocking of gifts for their two children. Also, as is customary, he made recommendations on how the children might behave better. "Alicia, my daughter, goes to a European school attended by various nationalities. I carpool with other parents. A couple of times a week, an American boy visits. But Alicia doesn't like that I speak English with him. St. Nicholas suggested that she be nicer to him even if he speaks English."
• Ahead of Lawrence of Arabia: Wednesday's story about the No. 2 book on a list of 100 books recommended for US officers in Iraq, prompted some readers to ask us, 'What was the No. 1 book?' The No. 1 book (from a survey by Inside the Pentagon, a newsletter), is "The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century," by Marine Col. Thomas Hammes. The Marine infantry and intelligence specialist argues in the book that the US has adapted poorly to "fourth-generation warfare," in which guerrillas and terrorists use low-technology tactics to exploit American vulnerabilities. For more info:www.globalsecurity.org/military/ library/report/2004/reading-list.htm