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Christmas, 2007
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December 2007

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

Ah, the joys of the holidays! The colors! The smells! As this year’s holiday missive goes to press, Jimmy Franklin is locked in the bathroom evacuating every orifice, sharing some vibrant holiday colors and even more powerful smells. This is what happens when your teenaged son slams down a combination of those traditional holiday staples: crab meat sushi, Doritos and barbequed “Wings of Fire”. 

 

While this is going on, Joe and Nancy are reminded of Jimmy’s spectacular meltdown on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy over Christmas, 2006. While walking through the storied sidewalks and courtyards of this spectacular city, they can still remember Jimmy’s plaintive wailings of “Why can’t we…just stay home…and not be in some…foul-smelling hotel…with…cheesy holiday decorations…and strange food?” If that boy ever emerges from the bathroom, Nancy is going to gently remind him that he was PRETTY MUCH DESCRIBING HIS OWN HOUSE AT THIS EXACT MOMENT!

 

The Franklins started the New Year touring central Italy with their good friends the Krasnoffs. The logistics of moving 4 teenagers and 4 adults together through the Tuscan countryside is like herding feral cats through a dog kennel. Suffice it to say that traveling together is a true test of friendship. An even BIGGER test is keeping the promise that you will never speak to anyone about what you’ve learned of each other.

 

In Florence, Nancy had a “religious” experience. It wasn’t Michelangelo’s David, although several parts of him were very inspiring. No, Joe had his family spend the night at a convent. With nuns. And orphans. This was a cross between a Charles Dickens novel and “Madeline” with World War I hospital beds. And although Nancy was expecting her bed to burst into flames, she got the best night’s sleep she’d had in several months. Jimmy and Taylor, on the other hand, discovered that God works in mysterious ways. When their prayers to be left in an internet café went unanswered, they discovered the toilet paper stuck to Joe’s shoe and proceeded to enjoy a goodly portion of a walk through the Renaissance-inspired streets watching their father dragging the offending toilet paper behind him.

 

Taylor, now 15 has turned into quite the little trash-talking sports enthusiast. She and her AYSO soccer teammates subjected their parents to six grueling months of sitting in lawn chairs next to gopher-infested soccer fields in two counties. Shouts of “You wanna go, Bee-ATCH?!” or “Bring it!” from girls in full make-up and clearly suffering from hormonal overload must have scared the other teams because the “Z-Babes” ended up third out of 600 teams. Taylor entered high school this year, and has already discarded her brain like a “so last year” designer handbag. When asked about her first day of school, Taylor replied “There are really cute boys in high school!” Never has having an older brother added so much potential to her little world.

 

Jimmy, 16, is now a sophomore in high school. He played Junior Varsity football this year and the stadium became a church of sorts for his parents who prayed regularly (“Please, God, don’t let Jimmy fumble the ball!) and had the health insurance cards laminated. Jimmy was first string “Special Teams”, and while his parents have always felt he was “special” enough to require protective head gear anyway, Jimmy learned just how “special” he was to the opposing tacklers when he happened to be holding the ball. Jimmy did manage to score a touchdown in a hotly contested game (41-0) by hanging onto the ball and falling forward through a series of plays and, eventually, into the end zone (48-0). The JV team went 10-1 this season and won their league.

 

This year, Nancy looks worse than her driver’s license picture, a close resemblance to Nick Nolte’s DUI booking photo. She continues to enjoy the challenges of consulting for a wide and diverse healthcare clientele and enjoys repeating often and loudly “Well, you might want to TAKE my advice. After all, it’s what you’re PAYING me for!” Nancy also decided to start karate lessons this year. She figured “wax on and wax off” a few cars, then go home and beat the snot out of her surly, hulking teenagers. There’s a certain amount of ritual and deference involved in karate. When done correctly, it’s a beautifully choreographed representation of ancient fighting principles. When done by Nancy, it’s a cross between spastic ballet and someone trying to ward off a swarm of angry bees. You hear “Osu” a lot in karate. It’s pronounced “Ohsssss” and means “I give my instructor much respect” or “I understand” as in “I give you much respect, Sensei, when you tell me it’s okay that my Caesarean scar will burst open as I hold this position” or “I understand that you want my bones to explode into dust, Sensei”. With a dream of acquiring color-coordinated belts to go with her business suits, Nancy is advancing through her classes with the dogged determination of one seeking Prada shoes on sale. Her deadly hands can now chop straight through streams of tap water and tautly-held toilet paper. However, that’s still not enough to defend her against the deadly flatus expelled by her husband and teenagers.

 

And speaking of Joe, he continues to amuse his family with his trip planning. The Franklins again spent time in Seattle this summer. The Krasnoffs, apparently having no recollection of Italy and remaining brain dead, accompanied them. Joe thought it would be fun to “hike around Mt. Rainier.” Nancy would like to make it clear that there was no tearing down of curtains to make matching lederhosen, but the hills were certainly alive with the sound of whining. The hills were also alive with all manner of insects, crawly things, robber birds and, oh yes, bears. It’s enlightening to learn that everyone, including someone’s husband, children and 77-year old mother, will hose you with honey as they leave you in the dust to be eaten as a party appetizer. While Joe can’t answer that age-old question about bears s****ing in the woods, he can answer the other question about which adults and which children s*** when they run into a bear.

 

And so, once again, the Franklins give thanks for a year in which their hardships were few, their blessings bountiful and their friends many. And for the new, tank-less water heater and new copper pipes that are finally allowing Nancy to have a hot shower! May the New Year bring you all much joy and happiness!

 

The Franklins

Joe, Nancy, Jimmy and Taylor

 

P.S,- If you can’t get enough bad newsletters, visit www.mirthquakes.com and click on “Christmas Newsletters” for back copies of the Franklin’s Holiday Newsletter.

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