DURING EVERY CHRISTMAS season, I remember my first views of Ireland. That's because I docked in County Wexford a week before Christmas 1994. It was a cold December then, and I felt frosty fingers and toes while inside my flat. Coming from eight years in Germany, where homes were sealed tight and insulated well, I lay down to sleep in a drafty place where I could see my own breath at night. Within a few weeks, I learned I didn't budget for fuel and I also learned that only my outdoor shoes had thick enough soles to prevent cold from seeping into the bottom of my feet. It would be months--years--before I figured out Flogas bottled gas containers, heating oil distributors, peat briquettes, the joy of natural gas boilers and the convenience of wall-mounted electric fires (like the one pictured that hangs with us now). The process started that cold Christmas eve in Greystones, County Wicklow. Sometime I think I should return to Greystones during the Christmas season to see (and feel) how much has changed.