Well the holiday season is mercifully drawing to its zenith -- which means its close is not far off. I am wiped out from distributing holiday cheer yesterday -- and let me give another shoutout to my inspirational battalion of hard-core volunteers, you all deserve a medal and a massage for what you did!

To match the wintry mood (of course it's the shortest day of the year, it's the day I have the most things to do!), the Globe presents its Year in Pictures Gallery for reflection. Some of these images are already iconic; some of the events seem an impossibly long time ago. It was a long, tumultuous year on every front: political, international, personal. I stood in Sydney, Australia and Albuquerque, NM, and many places in between this year...who knows what '04 will hold?

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