Dear Family and Friends,
Where does the time go? It's been another whole year and once again the yard is filled
with Joe's eclectic "Christmas Extravaganza" or, as Nancy calls it, the Electric Acid Trip.
Let's start with the Franklin's
spring break getaway on the Carnival Cruise ship "Ecstasea" to Ensenada, Mexico. This was much like joining the famous Delta
fraternity in "Animal House" with Bluto (John Belushi) as cruise director. Comparisons easily can be made between this ship
and its sister ship....a New Jersey waste management barge. In fact, the only difference between this and the infamous Titanic
disaster is that the Ecstasea stayed afloat, owing, no doubt, to the miraculous bonding power of rust. But we digress...
like a stately oak tree, Nancy has added another ring of fat around her middle. She continues her reign as Senior Diva of
Marketing & Communications for Tenet HealthSystem. This doesn't bring with it quite the same level of adulation as it
used to. In fact, with a stock plunge of 70% and words like "Enron" and "WorldCom" being bandied about, Nancy is convinced
that when the dust settles on the bad press ("Honestly, it's not illegal to raise prices; Aggressive, but not illegal...")
her new title at Tenet will be "Senior Director of Bedpan Management". Maybe it might not be so bad to have a job where "Do
you want that Supersized?" is the most difficult message you have to convey.
Joe, of course, has stepped right up
to the plate. His job keeps him out of Nancy's range about three days a week. And since he was already running away from home
on those three days, he decided to start training for triathlons. Joe competes in a class known as (no kidding!) "Clydesdale",
a term which refers to men of a certain weight more commonly associated with horses who pull beer wagons (think Budweiser).
In fact, too many beers probably explains how they got to be the girth of a Clydesdale, but we digress... The Franklins are
very proud that Joe has placed 3rd in his class in his first two triathlons. Hell, Nancy's surprised he finished at ALL, but
hasn't cancelled the insurance riders on him yet. Nancy also still refuses to entertain Joe's notion that being a "Clydesdale"
correlates to a certain piece of equine anatomy.
Jimmy, now 11 years old, and Taylor, 10, continue to prove themselves
less than stellar students when it comes to academics. Nancy and Joe are well aware that certain traits skip generations,
but they're thinking it's just not fair that this generation skipped all the way back to primates. There seems to be a new
"creative" focus in the 4th and 5th grades and Nancy is just a bit hypersensitive about getting calls at work from her children
Taylor: "Can I give the cat a haircut so I can weave clothing out of fur like the first settlers?"
"Not unless you want to feel like the first settlers would have after going through a paper shredder..."
do we have potassium nitrate, sulphur and charcoal?"
Jimmy: "So I can blow the top off something."
Nancy: "Oh, you mean like our HOUSE?!"
Fortunately, the Franklin children have athletics, an outlet for kicking,
screaming, pouting, crying and nail biting. And that's just their parents. Taylor, 3 inches taller and 20 lbs. heavier than
most of her classmates, is every sport's "Terminator". The mere sight of Taylor stepping up to the plate in softball, thundering
down the basketball court or defending the goal in soccer is enough to make most opponents step back and weigh the pros and
cons of losing a few front teeth. Of course, it doesn't help that she has a "Go ahead, make my day" grin on her face as she's
doing it. And this is an attitude she freely brings home to share with her parents, giving them a preview of teenage hormonal
But this was the year some small little fire took hold in Jimmy. The years spent chucking beanie babies
at Taylor's head finally paid off. In the spring, he pitched a perfect, 3-inning no hitter; 27 straight strikes in his first
year of Pony League Baseball. And this fall, from some dark place of longing, Jimmy was able to persuade his parents to allow
him to play Pop Warner football for the El Segundo Eagles. This is the kind of sport where you weigh the merits of your medical
and dental plans against the kids' full pads and helmets. Suddenly, you're reaffirming your religion through prayer as you
watch your 73 lb. wisp of a child get hammered by third generation football dynasties with names like "DeShawn" and "Leroy".
All through the season Joe and Nancy faithfully sat in the stands at every game. Through heat, rain, cold and gloom
of practice. Five nights a week in August; three nights a week during the season. And Jimmy dutifully rode the pine for most
of it. And, by some miracle of sorts, the El Segundo Eagles went 11-2 and found themselves playing in the "mini-Rose Bowl"
against an undefeated team from Flagstaff, Arizona.
And it came to pass that the Eagles were ahead with 3 minutes
to play. And, since Flagstaff had just scored a touchdown, they were set up for an onside kick. Jimmy, for the first time
in his career, EVER, was lined up to receive. Nancy and Joe yawned. No way would any onside kick make it to Jimmy's lonely
AND THEN THE FLAGSTAFF BOYS LAUNCHED A HIGH, DEEP, END-OVER-END KICK.
This is one of those moments
in the collective psyche of parents everywhere; Everything cuts to slow motion, voices in the stands become mere murmurs against
the beating of the parents' hearts. Promises are made to God. A thousand life moments pass in front of their eyes as they
calculate the number of balls they've tossed against the percentage caught. And in that split second they have that Roone
Arledge moment of knowing the difference between the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat".
And little Jimmy
Franklin, who hasn't caught anything other than a cold all year, caught that ball and ran it back 61 yards, stepping nimbly,
as if through bags of flaming dog crap, for a touchdown.
Your own personal video copy is available for $19.95 plus
shipping and handling. Operators are standing by.
As of this writing, the Franklins are scheduled to be spending the
holidays in Italy. Joe is butchering conversational Italian; Jimmy and Taylor are obsessing about gypsy pickpockets; and Nancy
is stocking up on pharmaceuticals and dog-earing her Bulgari catalogue.
So, once again we give thanks to our neighbors
and friends for not running us out of the neighborhood, to our mortgage broker for allowing us to refinance and to God who
kept us safe and healthy through another year.
May you have good health and good fortune in 2003!
Joe, Nancy, Jimmy & Taylor
Nancy Franklin. All rights reserved