Christmas 2005

To our friends and family: Greetings! 

This past year was another wonderful one packed full of surprises!

The latest was the birth of Avery Marieke to Kathleen and Leo on November 23! She was pretty big, at 8 lbs, .6 oz. (3,65KG). We all celebrated Thanksgiving with her in the hospital in Rochester. She is the first grandchild on both sides of her family. And, yes, Marcella, she is the cutest and brightest baby ever!

Jim and MM and Jim's dad (we met at the Detroit airport) were able to fly out to the Seattle area for a quick visit with Jim's brother John and his wife Nadyne, their boys Ben and Piet, and Nadyne's mother. We had sunshine wherever we went - east through the mountains and west to the islands and Puget Sound. It was an amazing trip.

Another event was yet another trip to Europe to participate in the Van Hout Family Reunion near Brussels in eastern Flanders. The whole family went, but traveled separately. Leo and Katie and Kateri started in Germany where Katie spent a few years as a child. Jan-Luc toured Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Marieke started in England visiting friends. While we were stuck a whole day in Newark because of "weather", Jim's dad, who had never been to Belgium, made the flight and was welcomed by Luc and Chris Van Hout and made to feel right at home. 

Before the Reunion, we travelled to western Flanders to see the Van Damme sites, going back hundreds of years. We met a living relative, Katrien Couchez, and visited the Couchez Mill  which is being restored. The Reunion is a story itself! So many grand times and even grander people. What a wonderful family to belong to!

After the Reunion, we went to England and stayed at a cottage in west Wiltshire, on the west side of England. While we were enjoying the quiet countryside, Kateri was in London at the time of the July 7th bombings with Charles & David Sellers (sons of our English friends the Sellers). Thankfully they escaped harm and were rescued by Marieke and her British friends! Our children and their friends also spent some time at the cottage. Later, Jim and MM went north to visit Leona and John Sellers and their boys in Wakefield, and enjoy high tea in York.

Jan-Luc is involved with many film and art projects in NYC, from editing short films to producing documentaries and an off-Broadway dance show. He enjoys life immensely and all the opportunities he is blessed with. For a fuller picture visit Nullset Films or write him at janlucvd (at) He loves you dearly.

Marieke happily resides on Boston's North Shore (Wakefield). She is still working on her Master's in Museum Studies at Harvard and now has a really fun job as Curator of the George Peabody House, a small historic house museum in Peabody, Massachusetts. There were way too many wonderful and exciting things that happened this year; luckily, all were documented on her digital camera. Email her at mariekevd (at) for the evidence.

Kateri finished her sophomore year at LeMoyne without incident. Then she spent the summer working at Radio Shack after a short stint trying to sell leather jackets in July. Last semester she choreographed and danced a Celtic dance number for the LeMoyne Student Dancers, but she's too busy this year training to be a teacher.

Mary Margaret still puts on many miles as "part-time" Director of the Diocesan Deaf Ministry with a LOT more real-pay interpreting "on the side". Way too much for her liking, but it shouldn't last too much longer. In January her annual Pastoral Workers Conference was held in Colorado Springs, so she was able to enjoy an evening visit with "old Rome" friends Cathy and Randy Barrett including delicious, homemade Belgian soup. ( Cathy is of Flemish descent.) Then she was able to spend three days with her sister Celeste and two nieces, Missy and Debbie. Great fun! (It was 70 there and -13 at home.) MM's job also took her to Atlanta in October. She brought 4 Deaf teens to the National Catholic Youth Conference and even found herself on the Big Screen one time. Aach!

MM's ongoing genealogical search led to another trip to Toronto to meet another “found” cousin, Jack Laforet. He also met Mary Botosan, the cousin in Toronto we met last year. Jack's wife Lillas served a delicious afternoon tea. We learned so much from their stories of Windsor's people and places. 

Then later in October we met yet another branch of the Fox Family tree: Mary Margaret (!) and George Montague drove from near Niagara Falls, Ontario, to meet us in Rochester for lunch and hours of chatting.

MC the cat eats, sleeps, and lays around the house. So does Jim. One day while MM was away, Jim felled a 65 foot (20M) poplar into the asparagus patch out back. He still builds radars at the Air Force Research Lab, but the Base Realignment and Closing Commission ordered the lab to move to Dayton, Ohio in a few years. What this means has yet to be determined, but we doubt we'll be moving.

E-mail us at vandamme(at) (If you must send forwards, please check them out first), and be sure to see our latest pictures and europe pictures, which are bigger and more numerous than the ones on this page. 

We hope you are healthy and happy. Best wishes for 2006!

Jim, Mary Margaret/Tunkin, Leo & Katie & Avery, Jan-Luc, Marieke, and Kateri

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