It has been a very eventful Christmas season for us. The fun began back on December 16 when my parents arrived in Charlottesville. They were delayed by a day because of an ice storm, which closed down roads, knocked out power and caused trains to be canceled.

After touring the UVA campus and resting in Charlottesville, we drove to northern VA to attend the baptism of my cousin's baby. We spent a couple of extra days in D.C. hanging out with Katie and Joe, visiting sites on Capitol Hill and visiting Civil War battlegrounds. Thanks to the expert cooking skills of Katie and Joe, we got to have steamed lobster for the first time. It was pretty excellent. We also got to see the very spot where my great-great-grandfather, R.J. Marshall, was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Spotsylvania Courthouse.

After some more touring of Monticello, Michie Tavern and Ash Lawn-Highland, we got the house ready for Katie and Joe to arrive for Christmas. Our little house has never been so crowded, but we had a great time playing games, watching movies, eating and spending quality time together. It was a great Christmas, and we were all grateful to be together.

We spent the following week resting and wrapping up some home improvement projects. Also, Gina started to delve into genealogical research and gathered a lot of exciting information from her cousins Jean and Karla. We know that her ancestor Andrew Kelly/Kolle immigrated from Germany and served in the Revolutionary War, so the Kelly cousins are eligible for DAR membership.

We decided to celebrate New Year's Eve in Charlottesville. We volunteered for a couple of hours as ushers for the Brown v. Board of Education monologue that was superb! Afterward we listened to the Celtibillies and then enjoyed some Improv Comedy... then we wrapped up the evening by going to see the Vulgar Bulgars, a young band specializing in Klezmer, a style of music that blends Eastern European and Jewish sounds. We went home just before midnight to ring in the New Year with Tommy, who had decided to stay at home for the evening.

The first week of 2006, we started back with work...Gina had meetings and worked on some projects, and I started designing my course website. For the weekend, Gina and I headed to Williamsburg for a couple of days. I hadn't been there since I was in high school, and it was Gina's first trip to the colonial town. We stayed in a condominium at a place called Powhatan Plantation, part of my parent's time share membership. The room was very nice, and it enabled us to eat breakfast in the room rather than having to eat out. We spent a whole day in Colonial Williamsburg looking at the historic buildings, watching actors and musicians and talking to people in "Ye Olde English" vernacular. The next day we went to see the James River and the Jamestown Settlement. We will plan to spend more time there next time we visit.

This is all for now. We hope everyone had a great Christmas and that you are getting the New Year off to a good start. More coming later.