With Dec. 25 over with, life for a certain letter carrier in Fort St. John, British Columbia, now can return to normal - more or less. And not because of an unusually heavy volume of mail that had to be delivered this year, although that's part of the reason. Mostly, though, it's because his name is Murray Christmas. Or, rather, it has been since he legally changed it from Trondson six years ago. But, he admits: "It's a name to live up to: I have to be conscious of it, because sometimes I don't feel too Christmasy."


Speaking of Christmas past, this would have been about the day Colin Wood emerged from the underground concrete bomb shelter near London that he paid $430 at auction to spend two weeks in - alone. Why? To avoid "the running around, the buying of presents for people you don't like, the family bickering, the endless turkey, and the terrible films on TV." Alas, by Dec. 25 he was already out. Not because of a change of heart, mind you, but so he could slake his thirst for a popular adult beverage.

Sept. 11 - what else? - is rated year's top news story

In a survey of editors and broadcasters across the US whose organizations subscribe to the Associated Press, the hijacking of four commercial airliners by Muslim terrorists Sept. 11 and the crashes and massive loss of life that followed easily ranked as the leading news story of 2001. The 10 most important news stories of the year, based on the votes of 354 respondents to the AP survey:

1. Terrorist attacks of Sept. 11

2. President Bush's counter-terrorism campaign

3. Anthrax scare and deaths

4. US slips into recession

5. Bush's inauguration

6. Execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh

7. Israeli-Palestinian conflict

8. James Jeffords of Vermont quits Republican Party, giving US Senate control to Democrats

9. California's electricity woes

10. Congress approves tax cut

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