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Franzen Family Christmas Card

(and Christmas Letter)

Franzen Family Christmas Letter (with contact info removed... If you know us and don't have our digits, drop a line below):

Dear Humans,

Ernest the turtle, here. So, first of all, it has been brought to my attention that my equine sister wrote last year’s Christmas letter, and she wasn’t exactly complimentary to her other four-legged siblings. Contrary to her claims that we are basically illiterate noobs, we’re actually quite intelligent (though the jury is still out on Dagny) and frankly, are hurt that she felt the need to disparage our contributions around here. Just because we are relatively quiet doesn’t mean we don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Case in point:

I understand there’s some dumb virus mucking about peoples’ plans and whatnot, but mom and dad seem fine. Coincidentally, they *are* hanging around here a lot more often – especially dad, but aside from that, they seem FINE… Unlike ME, who could have DIED thanks to this pandemic. Did you know there was a cricket shortage because of the ‘rona?? WELL THERE WAS. I heard mom and dad wondering about where they were going to get my next meal, and OH MY GOODNESS, talk about stress! Crickets are the only thing I’ll eat (aside from shrimp, but some lady in a white coat told my mom she can’t give those to me anymore because I won’t eat anything else – I mean, she’s not wrong). Anyway, the humans around here are fine. I think it’s fair to say that I’M the one who has suffered the most (albeit mostly emotionally) from this fiasco.

My human sister, Reagan was planning to move to New York this year, but apparently the ‘rona affected her life as well (so I guess it’s not just me). So she’s still in Charlottesville, although once all the humans start living normal lives again, she says she *is* moving, but her sights are now set on L.A. Mom says that’s about as far away as she can get from New York (and Virginia), but if she wants to follow her musical dreams, apparently that’s the place to go. If that’s the case, I’d say this pandemic thing may have saved her the trouble of moving to a place she ultimately would have wanted to leave in relative short order anyway. I’m told this is called a silver lining. Anyway, she’s a pretty talented human from what I can tell; I may breathe out of my butt, but I have ears and I know talent when I hear it…

Speaking of talent… Dad continues to serve as Immanuel Lutheran’s Music Director, teach piano lessons, and play gigs around town (he also tends to us animals, keeps the houseplants alive, keeps the property looking good, and does all sorts of maintenance/improvements to the house/shop). As I mentioned, dad has been home a lot more this year. Something about how his gigs were cancelled because of the virus. But that was actually GOOD NEWS for my furry siblings and especially me; my habitat is in the music room and I’ve gotten to listen to him play pretty much every day – and he’s GOOD! Gigs started to come back in July or so, but apparently, they’re starting to cancel again, so dad has been a little miffed. But hey, on the bright side, I have crickets and live music every day with a front-row seat. Wait. You don’t think there could be another cricket shortage, do you?

Not a lot changed for mom this year. Apparently, we have really terrible Internet (so I hear) so when everyone started working from home in the spring, she couldn’t. So, she drove across town to church every day and worked there. Then this summer her co-worker and BFF moved just down the road from us, and there was space there for her to work! So, her commute went from a half hour to 8 minutes… She was pretty stoked. I don’t blame her; I hate car rides. THEN, just a few weeks ago our neighbor allowed mom to try something called a hotspot – which, I’m told is different than my hotspot, but apparently, she likes hers as much as I love mine. So now she’s working from her friend’s house a few days a week and from our home on the other days. She mentioned something about not wanting to work from home every day for fear that she might strangle dad. Or something like that. I quite like dad, so I’m good with this plan. Anyway, mom says she’s really thankful to still have a job because a lot of her friends in the hospitality industry lost their jobs this year. When she’s not working, she’s crocheting or making music. She made the whole family festive winter wear this year which we’re all donning on the card, and she’s done some fun music projects with her dear college friend, Erik… She says it’s been one of the highlights of the year decade!

I’m doing well. I continue to grow (because I’m eating my crickets) and entertain my humans and cat siblings. About a year ago, mom and dad put some minnows in my tank to keep me company. Don’t tell, but I’ve eaten a couple of them (I was worried about where my next meal was going to come from, ok??), but mostly I just let them be. I go to the lady in the white coat tomorrow for a check-up. I’m fine, but I guess if she needs a lady in a white coat to tell her that, so be it…

The cats are as they always are. Speeds is calm and tolerant of just about anything (I mean, he wore a cat beanie for a photo shoot) and Dagny needs cat Ritalin. If I weren’t so disturbed by her jumpy neuroticism, I’d be entertained… But honestly, she kinda scares me. Jesse is cool. I don’t get to see her often, but I feel like we’d be pretty close if we had similar habitats. She’s a sucker for treats and she likes (and needs) a lot of attention, which dad gives her daily (attention, not necessarily treats).

Well, that’s about it, I suppose. Hopefully, you’re all doing well; mom and dad are thankful to have you in their lives and hope that if you’re ever in our neck of the woods, you’ll drop in. And if you need a formal invitation, consider this letter just that.

Wishing you the merriest of holidays and a fantastic 2021!



(and Eric, Sarah, Jesse, Speeds, & Dagny)

P.S. Not a bad letter for an illiterate noob turtle, eh?

Also in the Christmas spirit, here are a couple holiday musical videos... One of just me (O Nata Lux) and one of my friend Erik (mentioned in letter above) and me singing "Silent Night" that we posted on Christmas Eve:

O Nata Lux:

O Light born of Light,

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

with loving-kindness deign to receive

suppliant praise and prayer.

Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh

for the sake of the lost,

grant us to be members

of thy blessed body.

Silent Night:

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season and a fantastic 2021!

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