Christmas, 2003
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Christmas 2003

Dear Family and Friends,

As the Franklin family looks back through the events of 2003 it's almost impossible to know when reality left them and the acid tabs kicked in.

This time last year the Franklins were about to leave for two weeks in Italy and Malta. It was to be a time of family bonding, adventure, discovery and closeness. It was all that and more, particularly when they got a look at the converted chicken coop that was to be their quarters at the (how to put this delicately...) "rustic" farmhouse Joe had arranged for their first few nights in Sorrento.

On the evening of the second, rain-soaked day on the farm, surrounded by mange-encrusted, rheumy-eyed dogs, smelly pigs and dung-spattered cows, the Franklin family retreated to their coop. While their children huddled around the 25-watt light bulb that doubles as the primary European heat source, Nancy turned down her sheets to discover a live worm wriggling on her pillow. Firmly stating that she preferred chocolates on her pillow, Nancy grabbed the "Rick Steve's Guide to Italy" that Joe had been clutching. And even though Humphrey Bogart has been dead 40 years, just reading that at one time he'd stayed at the five star "Grand Hotel Ambasciatori" was enough for Nancy. The very next day Joe's credit card took a 2-day beating at this luxury retreat. His card is still whimpering.

Joe dragged his family through every part of Rome and Southern Italy. Jimmy barfed out the car window on the winding roads of the Amalfi coast. Taylor hurled on the blustery ferry ride to Capri. Had Patton been leading the Franklin children instead of the 3rd Army, he would have repelled the Germans from Italy on the stench of vomit alone.

Italy is a fabulous place for children, including the one Nancy married. Pinocchio is a national treasure. Fireworks can be bought on every street corner and are lit by everyone and thrown at everyone. The world's biggest McDonald's is right next to the Spanish Steps. Pizza and spaghetti are on the menu at every restaurant, along with a variety of gelato. The Franklin children never saw a vegetable for the entire two weeks and are probably only just now clearing their little bowels.

And speaking of ancient ruins, Nancy was officially declared one this year when she turned 50. With exquisite timing, her AARP membership application and screening colonoscopy reminder arrived the same day. Joe hosted a fabulous toga party in her honor. It's wonderful to take the measure of your life and realize you've invested time in the caliber of friends who have no pride and will show up at a social affair wearing all manner of bed linens and drinking wine much younger than you are.

Nancy continues her role as Senior Marketing "Diva" for Tenet, although these days it feels much like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Thinking that it's always good to have a plan, Nancy would like you all to visit her new website, www.mirthquakes.com, where she will be hosting samples of her deranged humor in the hope that someone will recognize her genius and reward it handsomely. Tell your friends-particularly if they happen to be publishers or agents. Or on drugs.

As is traditional, Jimmy, 12, and Taylor, 11, spent 2 weeks away at summer camp. Jimmy passed his Rawhide Ranch rifle marksmanship test and was elated. Nancy and Joe are astounded since there still seems to be a lack of "marksmanship" around the bathroom toilet seats.

This fall Jimmy entered middle school, that glorious stage when breaking wind is still hilarious, belching the alphabet gets a girl's attention and the importance of good hygiene is about to be discovered. Having just dragged Joe through his own arrested development, Nancy thinks it's unfair to have to start all over again.

With Jimmy off at middle school, Taylor is 'da big fish' at Pacific Elementary. Just the other morning Taylor was complaining about having a big brother. Sympathizing with her, Nancy stated that she and Joe were so disappointed in Jimmy that they decided to try one more time to get a "good" baby. After which Nancy said to Taylor, "Please note that you don't have a younger brother or sister". Taylor still isn't sure whether she's been 'dissed' or complimented.

Joe continues his quest for mini-triathlon perfection in the Clydesdale division. Who knew there was so much crap associated with this activity? Nancy simply can't imagine that the Greeks toted around special arm warmers, heart rate monitors or powdered fish protein drink. Then, again, she's infinitely grateful that Joe bought himself a wetsuit this year as very few men look good in a Speedo.

And speaking of averting your eyes, you might want to do just that and thereby avoid burning your retinas when you drive by the Franklin's holiday light display. Joe added a gingerbread house with gingerbread family to the display that already includes a head-waving moose, reindeer, 8' inflatable snowman, lighted Christmas trees, oversized tree ornaments, twinkling miniature trees, a lighted candy cane lane, big-assed gold foil star and the ever-popular 6' neon waving Santa.

This year, while Joe and the kids lined up on the sidewalk for the traditional "lighting ceremony", Nancy grabbed a beach chair, blanket and calculator and stationed herself next to the electric meter. As Joe flipped the switch, Nancy watched that old electric needle nearly spin itself into orbit as she calculated the size of the loan she'd need to cover the increase in the Franklin's electric bill.

So, once again, we give thanks for our health, our home, family, friends and pharmaceutical provider. May you all experience the blessing of the holidays, health and happiness in 2004!

The Franklins; Nancy, Joe, Jimmy and Taylor

2004 Nancy Franklin. All rights reserved