Mary and I used to think it was a great advantage to have our parents living within a half an hour of each other because we wouldn't have to pick and choose who to spend holidays with. Now, since I've made five trips to the Smith's in Frederick and back to the Lewis' in Derwood in as many days I'm not so sure. Our Christmas schedule includes spending Christmas Eve at the Lewis', staying the night at the Smith's and celebrating Christmas morning there, returning to the Lewis' for Christmas day (which includes a phone call from Mary's brother in Argentina), running back to Frederick for family pictures and Christmas dinner, and finally retiring to the Lewis' where we usually stay the night. It might be easier to just pick a family and spend the holidays with them.

Being in Maryland this Christmas gives Grandma and Grandpa Smith the opportunity to meet their first grandson. Samuel Paul was born on September 16, 1999. Samuel because it's the one of two biblical boys names my family hasn't used yet, and Paul after his grandfather, on both sides. Sam is a very happy baby. His favorite time of day is about nine o'clock in the morning after he has slept for almost 12 hours with just one interruption for eating (Mom and Dad are praying that he maintains that schedule). Sam's prominent ears may contribute to the fact that he likes to listen to Mom's singing and Dad's funny noises. He's especially happy during church hymns when he can hear both. He's blessed our lives and made us both very happy.

Mary and Philip will celebrate their one-year anniversary on December 29th. Together they anchor the junior primary teaching the largest class, the three-year olds. While Mary stays home during the day with the baby, Philip continues to go to school full time. He will do the graduation thing in April, although he will be taking one class after that and actually earn a diploma by July. The tentative plan is to move back to Maryland after that and try to get into a health administration program at the University of Pittsburgh or at George Washington. Philip is working part time as an electrician to pay the bills. So far, no homes have been burnt down that can be traced back to him.

We look forward to a successful intramural basketball season to tip off the millenium and draw a close to our tenure at BYU. We were thinking that a little girl might make an attractive addition to our family so stay tuned.

Happy holidays, and lots of love from Philip, Mary, and Samuel.